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25-year association: Red Cross, Church mark silver anniversary

A 'memorandum of understanding' is signed

The Church and the American Red Cross marked the silver anniversary of association June 20 by reaffirming their commitment to work together for folks in need.

Gail McGovern, CEO and president of the American Red Cross, met with Church welfare leaders at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. There she announced the recent signing of a "memorandum of understanding" designed to strengthen their partnership in humanitarian relief efforts throughout the world.

American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, left, tours Welfare Square with managing director Rick Foster
American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, left, tours Welfare Square with managing director Rick Foster on June 20. A new partnership was announced with the Church and the Red Cross. Church hosts Elder Richard Hinckley and his wife, Jane, are at right. | Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

"This is a chance to say thanks [to the Church] for their magnificent partnership with the Red Cross," said Ms. McGovern.

The new agreement, she added, allows the Red Cross and the Church to improve coordination in areas of disaster planning — including training, drills and identifying and utilizing shelter locations.

Improvements are also expected in how Latter-day Saint meetinghouses and other Church facilities are utilized for blood donation efforts.

Ms. McGovern spoke of the proven willingness of Church members to provide blood for those in need. More than 50,000 units of blood are collected annually through Church-hosted blood drives in the Salt Lake City area. Many more units are donated by members at other organized blood drives.

"Time and time again, Church members have rolled up their sleeves to make lifesaving donations," she said.

Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern tastes chocolate milk produced at Deseret Dairy at Welfare Square.
Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern tastes chocolate milk produced at Deseret Dairy at Welfare Square. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Steven K. Petersen, managing director of Church Welfare Services, said members of the Church are known for their capacity and willingness to help the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups in times of need.

"We can mobilize our members very quickly," he said.

Red Cross/Church agreement allows both organizations to improve disaster planning, which often start
Red Cross/Church agreement allows both organizations to improve disaster planning, which often starts at Welfare Square, above. | Photo by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Ms. McGovern also noted the Church's support of the Red Cross measles vaccination campaign in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past three years, the Church has reportedly contributed $3 million to the campaign, assisting in the vaccination of more than 200 million African children.

Both the Red Cross and the Church recognize the importance of preparation before disaster strikes, she said. The Red Cross and the Church will continue to work together in conducting training and disaster-preparation drills.

During her visit to Church headquarters, Ms. McGovern also toured Welfare Square and met with Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders.

jswensen@desnews.com

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