Utah (ABC4 News) — Two major Christian based religions are teaming up to feed our neighbors this holiday season.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated $1 million to the Salvation Army to help those struggling during the pandemic. According to the Church, the cash donation will go to supporting food distribution in more than 150 locations throughout the United States.
According to the Salvation Army, they have been supporting those in need since 1865. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year.
“The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”Salvation Army Mission Statement
“We know what James says [in the New Testament], that a religion that is accepted is characterized by taking care of the widows and orphans, those who are hungry, those who are suffering in this world,” said Colonel Kenneth Johnson, national chief secretary of the Salvation Army in the United States. “And what the Latter-day Saints do to come alongside the Salvation Army and impact in a positive way those lives that are suffering—we cannot say thank you enough.”
This is not the first time the Salvation Army and the Church of Jesus Christ have joined forces.
“The Church of Jesus Christ has partnered with the Salvation Army since 1988. Over those 32 years, the Church has made some 350 cash or commodity donations to various Salvation Army locations across the United States. Many of these donations have included food from the Church’s bishops’ central storehouses and vouchers for clothing and household items from the faith’s Deseret Industries stores. Outside the United States, the Church has contributed to more than 100 Salvation Army projects in 30 countries since 1994,” Church spokesperson Sam Penrod tells ABC4.
The Church’s December donation is the second this year. In April, the Church donated to the Salvation Army’s pandemic relief.
The Salvation Army says they expect to see a greater need for services this year. Based on the increased service they have already provided due to COVID-19, they say they will need resources to serve up to 155% more people with Christmas assistance.
Officials say COVID-19 has not only created a bigger need to fill but has also decreased the number of traditional red kettles you’re used to seeing at store entrances each Christmas season. “In fact, we could see up to a 50% decrease in red kettle funds this year,” stated the Salvation Army.
Church officials say the donation is a gift from the Church in response to the increase in food insecurity during 2020. The Salvation Army says they anticipate their food kitchens to decrease for its annual Christmas campaign.
“Your volunteers, your employees, your Church members who come alongside and provide those hands and feet and make our distribution and pack our boxes—it’s been a godsend to us,” says Salvation Army U.S. Western Territory Commissioner Doug Riley.
“You have experience that is unmatched. It’s a great honor for any member of the Church that gives of their resources to this cause because they know there is a trust there. It’s not only trust—it’s also something with the right spirit because we are all Christians,” says Church Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé.
“Our pledge to you,” said Colonel Kenneth Johnson, national chief secretary of the Salvation Army in the United States, “is that we will continue to honor your trust in us. And that as we work together, shoulder to shoulder, we’re gonna turn a lot of frowns into smiles of people that are suffering in this world. From the bottom of our hearts, we salute you.”