HOUSTON TEXAS – The LDS Church News reported over the weekend that the American Red Cross’s Texas Gulf Coast Region and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southeast Texas have established a large scale initiative which will likely entail thousands of community service hours being provided to the Red Cross by the church each year. Volunteer service for the initiative will come from the approximately 200 LDS congregations and 500 plus fulltime missionaries in the region.
The effort is a regional implementation of the national memorandum of understanding renewed by the two organizations in 2012 at Mormon Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. In that agreement, provision was made by both organizations to form local initiatives based on the framework of the national agreement.
In the article Steve Vetrano the CEO of the Texas Gulf Coast Region of the Red Cross stated “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”.
An article on the Mormon Church’s media newsroom highlighted the high priority that volunteerism is given in the faith. It further referenced a study performed by the University of Pennsylvania that declared member of the LDS Church to be the most “prosocial” members of American society.
Said Ram Cnaan the study’s lead researcher, “Regardless of where they live, they are very generous with their time and money,” and “Through a theology of obedience and sacrifice and a strong commitment to tithing and service, Latter-day Saints are model citizens.”
With refinements to the church’s full time missionary program in recent years has come a larger allotment of time dedicated to community service. It is not uncommon for missionaries to have up to 10 hours of time per week that can be devoted to a wide range of community service opportunities a significant portion of which will likely be focused on Red Cross projects.
Elder Dan Jones the Mormon Church’s ranking authority in the area was personally on hand for the announcement. Said Jones, “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”.
Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross said “I am grateful for the depth and breadth of the partnership that the Red Cross has with the Church. “Together, we are helping people in need down the street, across the country and around the world.”
Linda Talbot contributed to this story.