The Lord has established a way for those who have much to share with those who have little, said Elder G. Lynn Brenchley, Area Seventy, at the dedication of one of the Church's 44 Deseret Industries stores.
"I hope that all of us in our many different callings and responsibilities in the Church will look to those that are less fortunate and ask the question, 'Am I my brother's keeper?"' he said.
Before offering the dedicatory prayer for a new Logan, Utah, Deseret Industries store on Oct. 11, Elder Brenchley said the store was organized to help members become self-reliant and provide for the poor and the needy, "so every individual has the opportunity to be given the blessings of food and clothing that will help them and bless their lives."
Hundreds attended the dedication of the welfare center, which also includes offices for LDS Employment Services and LDS Family Services. The Church operates 44 Deseret Industries in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, California, Washington and Oregon.
The new store, 175 W. 1400 North, Logan, Utah, is part and parcel to what takes place on a grand scale throughout many Western communities, said Curtis Ravsten, Church director of Deseret Industries.
Deseret Industries originated toward the end of the Depression in August 1938, in an effort to provide opportunities for individuals to become self-sustaining.
A letter from the First Presidency was read Aug. 14, 1938, in sacrament meetings throughout the Salt Lake Region, calling for contributions of "clothing, papers, magazines, articles of furniture, electrical fixtures, metal and glassware." The store would then employ men and women to sort, process, and repair the articles collected for sale and distribution among those who desire to obtain usable articles at a minimum cost, according to the letter.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the Deseret Industries stores also began to emphasize rehabilitation, helping train people with disabilities and others in need of vocational skills.
Brother Ravsten said three relatively new programs are examples of how the Deseret Industries are meeting needs today.
First, a skills training program offers individuals the opportunity to work at the Deseret Industries while earning a technical certificate. The Deseret Industries pays the tuition of qualified participants, who can receive job skills and a certificate in 12, 15 or 18 months.
Second, the Deseret Industries is currently in partnership with more than 200 communities or non-profit agencies to extend its reach. Just as bishops receive vouchers that members can redeem at Deseret Industries stores, non-cash vouchers are also being made available to local charitable organizations, which can pass them along to the people they serve. As part of the program, homeless organizations, inner-city schools, or youth support groups might receive vouchers.
Third, many Deseret Industries stores, including the new store in Logan, now include a Humanitarian Service Room. There, Church and community members can provide service and learn how they can contribute to the Church's worldwide humanitarian outreach.
Bishop James W. Kofoed of the Logan Utah Mount Logan Stake and manager of the Brigham City, Utah, Deseret Industries store, said miracles happen every day at the Deseret Industries.
He said as he often walks through a Deseret Industries store he wonders who would donate such high quality items. "It would hopefully be you," he said. "Hopefully, you would have a desire to donate your excess to Heavenly Father to bless the lives of other people."
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