The Church in Southeast Texas and the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region affirmed a cooperative working agreement at a press event on Oct. 10.
This large-scale initiative will impact many of the 52 counties and estimated 9 million people covered by the Red Cross region. Latter-day Saints from approximately 200 wards and branches in the area, plus 500 full-time missionaries, will provide community service hours to the Red Cross. “The Church has been a valued partner and supporter of the [Red Cross] for over 30 years. We will continue to work with the Church and its members as we build prepared and resilient communities throughout Texas and the United States,” said Steve Vetrano, CEO of the American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region.
Elder Daniel W. Jones, an Area Seventy, added, “Our Church, which is actually the fourth largest denomination in the country, works together in community service to help improve the lives of our fellow man. That is the primary reason why we have partnered with organizations like the American Red Cross.”
The core of this initiative is to increase individuals’ involvement in the cooperative process. “Here in the Texas Gulf Coast the [Red Cross] is very excited to have the partnership with the LDS Church. ... We have a vast number of volunteer needs and opportunities to encourage people to really get engaged with their local Red Cross, learn more about what opportunities are there, figure out ways they can help, engaging families in the mission of the Red Cross, not only for disasters but in everyday life,” Mr. Vetrano said.
Elder Jones agreed with the importance of individual contributions. “The name of our Church recognizes our Christian beliefs as found in scriptural teachings and we encourage our members to follow those teachings. The biblical account noted in Acts that Christ went about ‘doing good’ is what we would encourage our members to do likewise, to do service to others in their communities,” Elder Jones said.
Additionally, the Church’s new JustServe.org service portal will be employed as the clearinghouse of available projects relating to the American Red Cross. Access to JustServe.org projects will also be made available to service organizations outside the Church.
In a 2012 Memorandum of Understanding forged by the leadership of both the Church and the American Red Cross, the two renewed their commitment to help those in need, and to engage at the local level with volunteer involvement. Their successful work together has involved disaster relief, disaster planning and training and shelter identification. “I would like the public to know the Red Cross is more prepared than ever when disaster strikes because of the relationship we have with the LDS Church,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross.
The two organizations have also partnered in blood drives, financial and in-kind donations and the measles initiative, which has resulted in vaccinating 213 million children in more than 40 African countries. “I am grateful for the depth and breadth of the partnership that the Red Cross has with the Church, said Mrs. McGovern. “Together, we are helping people in need down the street, across the country and around the world.”