The 2014 film “Meet the Mormons” proved a crowd favorite across the country with its heartfelt, often humorous glimpses into the lives of several Latter-day Saint families.
Now the profits from the popular flick, which was produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will help lessen the pain of people in need.
On Thursday, the church donated the net proceeds from the movie’s theatrical release to the American Red Cross. Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the church’s Presiding Bishop, presented a check for $1.8 million to Cliff Holtz, president of the ARC’s humanitarian services.
The donation was made at the ARC Utah Region’s annual Heroes Recognition luncheon at the Little America Hotel.
Bishop Stevenson said the purpose of the commercial movie was never to make a lot of money.
“The goal of that movie was to bring a greater understanding of who we really are, and to let people know how the gospel of Jesus Christ has influenced lives in positive ways,” he said.
The commercial release of the film exceeded expectations, he added. “Meet the Mormons” earned a spot in the top 10 box office rankings during its opening weekend.
“We are absolutely thrilled that this production was received so well,” said Bishop Stevenson.
A thankful Holtz said the “Meet the Mormons” donation was just another generous moment in the church’s ongoing support of the Red Cross that goes back almost a century.
The Utah Chapter also presented the LDS Church with its 2015 Outstanding Community Partner Award.
Over the past three decades, the church and the American Red Cross have partnered on more than 220 projects across the country, benefiting approximately 200,000 people following emergencies. The LDS Church has contributed nearly $10 million in the United States for Red Cross humanitarian projects, according to the Red Cross.
The Utah Region presented several other awards Thursday:
— The Community Champion Hero Award was presented to the Murray Chamber of Commerce for its promotion and support of Red Cross blood drives.
— The Preparedness Award was presented to Robert Kelley for his heroic actions in rescuing several passengers of a small plane that crashed in West Jordan.
— Max Moffat was presented the Family Hero Award for pulling his 5-year-old brother, Miles, from the bottom of a swimming pool.
— The Community Service Hero was awarded to Kenny Gardner, a former University of Utah basketball star who received a heart donated by former BYU player Nick Longshore. That priceless gift prompted Gardner to found the Hearts 4 Hearts Foundation to raise awareness for organ donation and create a college scholarship fund for surviving family members of organ donors.
— Hailee Strandgard received the Youth Hero Award for her efforts to organize a nonprofit organization that raises money to assist Utah’s homeless communities and other local charities.
— Cottonwood Heights Police officer Casey Davies received the First Responder Hero Award for his brave actions that thwarted a bank robbery.
— Iraq War veteran Mike Cumming was presented the Military Hero Award for developing a therapeutic rock climbing project for fellow veterans.
— Bill Brass was awarded the Workplace Hero Award for his contributions to Utah Task Force 1, a volunteer group that specializes in urban search and rescue in the aftermath of calamity.
— Cassidy, a three-legged rescue dog, was presented with the Educator Hero Award. The friendly canine brings hope to patients at rehabilitation centers.
— The Good Samaritan Hero Award was presented to Leo Montoya Jr. for his heroic actions to help saves the lives of passengers of a car that had tumbled into the Jordan River.
— And the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Stan Rosenzweig for his ongoing service to the Red Cross during a series of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina.
[email protected] @JNSwensen