Red Cross, LDS Church strengthen humanitarian partnership

Published: Wednesday, June 20 2012 2:47 p.m. MDT

American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern tours Welfare Square in Salt Lake City Wednesday, June 20, 2012. A new partnership was announced with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The American Red Cross and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marked the silver anniversary of association Wednesday by reaffirming their commitment to work together for folks in need.

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

"This is a chance to say thanks (to the church) for its magnificent partnership with the Red Cross," McGovern said.

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 meetinghouse and other church facilities are used for blood-donation efforts.

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.

Steven K. Petersen, managing director of Church Welfare Services, said members of the LDS 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.

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 LDS Church will continue to work together in conducting training and disaster-preparation drills.

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

Email: jswensen@desnews.com

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