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BONNIE - I just saw a special on the news tonight showing the homeless children in Salt Lake City. It seems they lack for funds and kids are turned out of shelters to sleep on the streets. I'm shocked that something like this goes on in Salt Lake. Is the church involved in helping the homeless? It would seem a good way to bring people into the church and to give humanitarian aid. I don't know how to send a message to the church so I'm writing to you. You have always been able to help me with my questions. I hope you can help me with this one.

JOEL - I imagine this kind of situation is increasing over the entire country lately with the current state of the economy. First of all the church already spends a great portion of its Fast Offering money taking care of its own church members through the Church Welfare program, thus greatly reducing the burden to the established homeless programs, that might otherwise be overwhelmed by poor and homeless LDS church members.

However, while it is true the LDS Church has no formal programs for the homeless, the Church's LDS Foundation has been a significant contributor of cash, supplies, and volunteer service to already established programs, such as the Salvation Army, CARE, Saint Vincent De Paul Center soup kitchen for the homeless, the Salt Lake City Homeless Shelter, the Winter Overflow Emergency Shelter, the YMCA, the YWCA, Catholic Relief Services, and Catholic Community Services.

From what I understand these organizations already running homeless programs would like to keep things the way they are; accepting donations and volunteer service from the LDS Church, rather than having the Church come in and take over that particular area of community service. Church leaders are well aware of the local problem, but what needs to happen is for everyone in their own community to increase their time and donations to currently established institutions so these children are not turned away.

Each year before Christmas my stake participates in a week long event called "Festival of the Trees". Decorated Christmas trees, homemade foods, and other goods are donated and people bid on the trees and buy the food and goods, the proceeds of which all go to the local homeless shelter. We bring in several thousand dollars per year. Most of the people who run the event are LDS members.
LDS members can also contribute to the LDS Humanitarian Aid fund on their donations slips, which is used to help the homeless as well as world wide relief efforts. Here is a link to a talk about the humanitarian efforts by the church:

Thomas S. Monson, “My Brother’s Keeper,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 43

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