Yesterday my husband an I took our three teenage sons to visit the LDS Welfare Square.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always shown concern for the poor and needy, from the very beginning. For example, back in 1842 the women's organization, known as Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. That same organization continues to function today known simply as Relief Society and is about 5 million (give or take) members strong.
They also showed concern when they traveled across the plains by planting crops that they would never use themselves. They planted them for those who would follow after them.
The church continues this concern and care today, all over the world, through tithes and offerings and this incredible place known only as 'Welfare Square'.
At the square they have walking tours to show you throughout all the buildings. They say it takes about an hour but I think we were there much less than that. We were shown through the 'Bishops storehouse' which is where those people who are in need of food can turn and be given what they need (member and non-member alike). All that is asked is that they then volunteer in someway so as to be able to feel good about themselves by helping others.
This building is stocked with foods that have been prepared and or canned by volunteers. In fact, I myself have worked, as a volunteer, in one of these factories many many years ago. As a congregation we were asked to work the 11pm shift to can beans. We were to drive 45 mins away and work a four or six hour shift. We did so happily because this we knew, was helping others. As we left another crew came in.
Yesterday as we were shown around, the factory there was working on jars of pasta sauce. Again manned by volunteers of the church.....but I am ahead of myself.
Behind the Bishop's Storehouse was the warehouse that holds all these canned foods. They showed us a remarkable box that contains enough food to feed a family of 4 for a month. These boxes fill trucks and shipping containers and are sent to where they are needed after a natural disaster...wherever it happens in the world.
We walked past a bakery, and a dairy where we just missed seeing them with the milk bottles...(they produce regular and chocolate milk)....and passed by a group of volunteer workers just leaving after they had finished with the cheese. We got to taste the chocolate milk and the cheese. They were both DELICIOUS. The sister missionary who showed us around made the comment that the factories produce the best food that money can't buy. Even if we wanted to buy the chocolate milk we couldn't. It is merely to give to those who are in need.
We walked past big silos that store wheat that is only for use in disasters. Our guide said that every 4 years or so if it hasn't been used they empty it and fill it up again. They don't waste the wheat that is emptied out. They give it to organizations who could use it and distribute it.
We then walked through the back of Deseret Industries where goods that are donated are cleaned up and place out in the store front to sell. Money from DI is then used to help with this humanitarian/welfare effort. After the tour we went back to the store and provided our own 'help' in the effort and purchased some fun items. "Hello. My name is Wendy and I'm a DI addict."
At the end of the tour we sat and watched a video that ran for about 15 minutes. It was about 'why' and 'how' but mostly it was uplifting and inspiring. I can not imagine anyone going on this tour or even watching the video and not leave with a desire to do something that would contribute to this effort....or some other great cause (I'm thinking of the Red Cross or the Salvation Army who also do INCREDIBLE work).
This video is a good 10 minutes but it shows examples of what the humanitarian leg of The Church of Jesus Christ has done, there are stories from some of those who have been on the receiving end as well as comments from Senator Ted Kennedy and leaders of countries who have been recipients.
To all who look at the news and see devastation around the world and wish there was something you could do...well there IS.