SALT LAKE CITY -- The American Red Cross announced a formal partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Wednesday that solidifies 25 years of informal cooperation.
Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, visited the church's Welfare Square and held a news conference to make the announcement.
The Red Cross leader said she was in awe of the organization's preparation to respond to disasters and the host of supplies -- from food to tents -- stored at Welfare Square.
"I'm always amazed at how difficult it is to get communities to be prepared," McGovern said. "We are more prepared than ever for when disaster strikes because of the relationship we have with the LDS Church. ... I'm grateful for the depth and breadth of the partnership with the LDS Church."
McGovern said the LDS Church helps the Red Cross with three of its four mission prongs.
She named disaster relief, preparedness and blood services as those in which the church aids the Red Cross.
She said 25 percent of the blood donations in the Utah region come from an agreement with the LDS Church for donations.
"The need is absolutely constant," she said, noting that every 2 seconds in this country, someone needs blood.
McGovern also said more blood is needed in summer because schools are not in session to hold blood drives. Also, more blood is needed to aid in summertime accidents.
She hopes the partnership will result in even more efforts for church members to donate blood.
One mission the church does not aid the Red Cross in achieving, she said, is connections for military service people during times of need.
Also speaking was Steven K. Peterson, the church's welfare department managing director.
He said there was nothing new or different that the church and the Red Cross are doing in their partnership.
"We can mobilize our members very quickly," Peterson said. "We have training in case of actual disasters. Our members are capable."
McGovern said the partnership effort was designed to help the Red Cross and the LDS Church have the tools in place to respond better to the 68,000 disasters that occur each year.
McGovern said there are similar relationships with other churches in the United States.
Other partnerships help with cooking and mental health counseling at locations where disasters occur.
McGovern said there is a free online report card for any organization to see how prepared they are in the event of a disaster.
That report card is found at readyrating.org.