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Church donates $1.5M to American Red Cross for emergency response vehicles

MURRAY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated $1.5 million to the American Red Cross on Friday for 10 new emergency response vehicles, including one based in Salt Lake City.

"This gift is a testament to our great trust and respect for the American Red Cross," Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the church's Presiding Bishopric, said at a news conference at a Red Cross blood donation center.

The Red Cross and the church also renewed a three-year memorandum of understanding to extend their partnership to provide disaster relief. The working relationship between the two organizations dates back to World War I.

"I cannot thank you enough for this gift. It means all the world to us," said American Red Cross CEO Cliff Holtz.

The new state-of-art emergency response vehicles will be deployed coast to coast as part of a Red Cross fleet numbering about 400 around the country. They will replace old, rundown trucks that have been heavily used over the years.

"These vehicles will be the first line of defense for the Red Cross to provide mobile feeding and mobile distribution of critical supplies in times of disaster," Holtz said.

Bishop Davies and Holtz said the church and the Red Cross have shared missions to alleviate suffering for people in need.

"It's in our DNA. It's in their DNA," the bishop said.

Holtz said the longstanding partnership with the church covers all of the services Red Cross delivers, including disaster support, money, donations of time and organizing blood drives.

Red Cross and church volunteers often find themselves arriving at the site of disasters and emergencies not far apart, most recently in the aftermath of hurricanes Florence and Michael in the Southeast.

"We are almost always at the same place at the same time because our missions are so similar, and the best thing about this is because we work in partnership with each other, we can take our resources and multiply the effects of both," Holtz said.

"By ourselves, we would be a one. By itself, the church would be a one. Together we're a three."

The Red Cross has 100 memorandums of understanding with faith-based and community organizations and other groups around the nation. Holtz said the partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique.

Bishop Davies said it feels "really, really good" to renew the agreement.

"We're thrilled because these people do this because they care, it's not because they're trying to draw any attention to themselves," he said. "It's all about getting the services to people in need."