SALT LAKE CITY — For a second straight year, the LDS Church has donated $5 million worth of aid to the nine voluntary refugee resettlement agencies in the United States.
The $1.2 million in cash and $3.8 million in commodities or services will be used during 2018 by the nine charitable organizations, who have agreements with the State Department to provide reception and placement services for refugees who arrive in the United States.
Each organization will receive a different amount. Some are long-time partners of the church. Other relationships began in late 2015 or during 2016.
"Episcopal Migration Ministries and our 22 affiliate partners are deeply grateful for the generosity and support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," one said in a statement provided to the Deseret News. "With a gift of $50,000 cash and $200,000 in-kind donations, the LDS Church has donated $500,000 combined (cash and in-kind) to Episcopal Migration Ministries since 2016. In addition, they are working with the Episcopal Migration Ministries team to create a strategic media plan to broaden outreach."
The donations are the direct result of giving by Mormons and others to the LDS Humanitarian Fund.
In October 2015, the LDS Church's First Presidency issued a letter to church members encouraging them to donate to the Humanitarian Fund. The letter fueled a record year for the fund. Contributions immediately doubled, and that level of giving continued throughout 2016 and into 2017.
The fund has provided money, items and services for refugees in Europe, the Middle East and the United States. LDS Charities conducted 488 refugee relief projects in 54 countries in 2016.
Episcopal Migration Ministries is a ministry of the Episcopal Church with affiliate offices in 17 states.
“The support from the LDS Church has allowed Episcopal Migration Ministries to grant support projects for housing and health issues focused on homelessness prevention and intensive services for refugee cases with medical needs,” the aforementioned statement added. “We are thankful for LDS Church leadership in support of refugee resettlement.”
The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, also expressed gratitude for the donation. HIAS will receive $200,000, with $40,000 in cash and $160,000 in in-kind gifts. That matches what HIAS received from the LDS Church last year.
"With this gift, many refugee families will now have chairs and a proper table around which they can share a meal with one another," said Mike Mitchell, associate vice president of HIAS' U.S. programs. "Many haven’t had such a blessing for years but thanks to the LDS Church, they now do."
The cash will be used primarily for a women’s micro enterprise loan fund which helps provide credit builder loans and small business loans to refugee women in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio. The furnishings are being distributed to refugees resettled by HIAS’ local partners across the country.
HIAS is the oldest refugee protection agency in the world and has 18 affiliates in 12 states
Last week, another one of the nine resettlement agencies, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, was the first to thank the LDS Church publicly for its part of the new donation, a gift totaling $600,000 in cash and commodities.
The 2015 First Presidency letter also invited Mormons to participate in local refugees relief projects. In March 2016, a church leader announced an initiative titled "I Was a Stranger" to further encourage volunteerism.
From South Carolina to Arizona, Mormons flooded resettlement centers of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, which helps refugees in 25 states.
"As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to bear our neighbors' burdens and provide them with refuge from the storms of life," said LDS Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé. The Presiding Bishopric oversees the church's global humanitarian aid and welfare efforts.
"Local organizations know the unique needs of the communities they serve," Bishop Caussé added. "Along with our prayers, we provide this support to help them respond to the needs in communities across the nation."
The LDS Church provided LIRS with $130,000 in cash and $520,000 in items and services.
The other agencies that will receive funds and in-kind donations are the Church World Service, the Ethiopian Community Development Council, the International Rescue Committee, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the World Relief Corporation.