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Four Ways to Become Part of Worldwide Humanitarian Efforts to Care for Those in Need

The Church offers 4 principles of volunteering in the community

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A family wearing JustServe t-shirts volunteers at a 9/11 National Day of Service activity in Georgetown, Texas, on September 9, 2023. Photo by Jessica Murray, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.

By Mary Richards, Church News

The Caring for Those in Need 2023 Summary from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — released last week — outlines some of the worldwide humanitarian aid, welfare and self-reliance efforts from the Church.

In 2023, 4,119 humanitarian projects took place in 191 countries and territories — with 6.2 million hours of volunteer work and $1.36 billion in expenditures.

These worldwide efforts could not be possible without generous donations of time and resources of faithful members and friends of the Church, said Blaine R. Maxfield, managing director of the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services Department.

“It is because of their work that we are able to serve God’s children and help them feel His love,” Maxfield said.

The summary explains that while there are many people in need across the globe, the most effective and long-lasting change happens when people build their own families, neighborhoods and communities.

As Church President Russell M. Nelson said in April 2021 general conference: “The two great commandments can guide us: first, to love God and, second, to love our neighbor. We show our love by serving” (“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget”).

For those who would like to learn how to volunteer in their community, the Church gives four principles, found at www.churchofjesuschrist.org/serve/serving-in-your-community and outlined below.

1. Identify a Need

Every community has people in need. Those who want to find out how they can help should ask their neighbors and Church leaders about service opportunities they are aware of.

Another way to identify needs is to learn about nonprofit, community and charitable organizations in the community.

JustServe.org is a free website and app where volunteers can find projects and nonprofit organizations in their area. JustServe is now in 17 countries. In addition, JustServe has had over 2,000 new organizations join the platform last year alone. JustServe has also facilitated 147,981 community service projects since its inception in 2012.

Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, expressed her love for service while volunteering with youth in a Tennessee JustServe club in November 2023.

“I love the fact that every time we help others or serve, something is transformed inside of us,” Sister Spannaus said. “Something is changing in our hearts or minds, and I love that we can become a better person just by serving.”

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Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus of the Young Women General Presidency serves with youth and JustServe volunteers at Angel Heart Farm in College Grove, Tennessee, on Saturday, November 4, 2023.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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2. Build Meaningful Relationships

The most effective service is often the result of collaboration with others whose background or religious affiliation differs from one’s own, explained the Church’s website.

And everyone in need of service is a child of God who deserves to be treated with understanding, love and respect — regardless of their circumstances.

With that in mind, the Church encourages people to:

  • Prioritize the person, not the project.
  • Question assumptions, set aside prejudices and seek to truly understand the barriers faced by those in need.
  • Show beliefs through actions, remembering that the primary goal is to provide help to others.

In a meeting with Church members in the South America South Area in September 2022, Primary General President Susan H. Porter shared her experience of assisting her husband — Elder Bruce D. Porter, a General Authority Seventy — amid his serious health challenges for many years before he died in 2016.

“Many times, what we do is not seen or known by others. However, God knows, and He blesses us when we serve in quiet, unseen ways,” she said.

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Members of the Caracas Venezuela Los Teques Stake prepare to share food and gifts as part of a larger service project around areas of Caracas, Venezuela, on December 24, 2023.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

3. Make a Plan

People can plan solutions that both meet immediate needs and provide a path to self-reliance. They can invite those they are serving to participate in the building of solutions.

Questions to ask can include: “What have you already tried to address this need? What would you like to try? How, when, and where would you like to receive help?”

At a U.N. conference in October 2022, Sister Kristin M. Yee, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke about these efforts.

“There is a purpose for your placement. So look around you and see what that looks like. Where can you contribute? Where can you love? Where can you serve?” she said.

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The Arkell family poses in the rain after their service project at the Orem Cemetery in Orem, Utah, on Monday, May 22, 2023. Photo by Adam Fondren, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

4. Share Experiences

As people share how their service as impacted themselves and others, it can inspire other people to act as well.

The joy of service and an invitation to join in volunteering can come up in everyday conversations.

Sharing examples of service on social media can also impact others. Volunteers who have helped a nonprofit organization can follow them on social media and tag them in posts about service.

The Caring social media accounts also share humanitarian, welfare, self-reliance and service experiences through @caring.churchofjesuschrist on Facebook and Instagram.

The Church’s website says some of the best opportunities to make a difference begin within each person’s own home and neighborhood.

“When we come together to solve local problems and help individuals in our communities feel loved, our efforts create ripples that reach far beyond ourselves.”

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares how it cares for those in need on its Caring social media accounts. Screenshot from Facebook, courtesy of Church News.2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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