SALT LAKE CITY — A collaboration of caring is being celebrated between Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Welfare Services of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). The LDS Church has the ability to manufacture nutritional food supplements, gather huge amounts of clothing, and assemble countless personal hygiene kits for people who are victims of famine and other natural disasters, and CRS has the international infrastructures in place to deliver the goods to the people who need them most.
CRS has honored their partner in caring, the LDS Church, with the organization’s Deus Caritas Est Award, naming the LDS Church to their Ambassadors of Hope Circle.
Dee Orren, program officer for the Western Region for CRS, and Marc D’Silva, senior development officer for Foundation and Corporate Relations, visited the LDS Church offices June 8 to tour the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Welfare Services and Humanitarian Response operations and to present locally, the award that had been previously presented in Milan some weeks earlier.
"The Deus Caritas Est Award is named after the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI," said D’Silva. "In it, the pope writes that loving and caring for others is not just an option. It’s what we are called to do as followers of Christ."
One example of the LDS Church effort to meet the needs of those facing natural disasters like famine, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes, is their ATMIT program. Begun in 1985, the LDS Church began producing ATMIT, a specific formula for malnourished children and others who cannot digest regular food. ATMIT, taken from the Ethiopian word for "nourishing porridge," consists of oat flour, powdered milk and sugar, is fortified with vitamins and minerals. Since 2003, 2,650 tons of ATMIT have been shipped from the LDS Church’s Welfare Services Dairy processing facility in Layton. ATMIT has been sent to 14 countries including Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, South Africa, Chad, Haiti, Palestine, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Paraguay, Burundi, and most recently Niger, said Dennis R. Lifferth, managing director of welfare services for the LDS Church.
"In addition to transporting ATMIT, CRS also provided air transport for the LDS Church’s recent campaign against measles in Africa," said Garry R. Flake, director of Humanitarian Emergency Response for the LDS Church.
Presenting the Deus Caritas Est Award, D’Silva said CRS "gives this level of award to our most esteemed partners, and the LDS Church has partnered with us over the past 20 years."
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has great appreciation for your organization and it’s efficiencies," said Lifferth. "We are honored to accept such a cherished prize."
Orren said Utah is one of the states she visits, raising funds and meeting with donors on the national, state, and individual levels. "We work together because the needs are so great that none of us could meet them alone. We take donors overseas so they can see what their generosity has done. They in turn, can make recommendations to us."