The American Red Cross has joined forces with the Harlem Globetrotters as its official charity partner through the team’s Great Assist initiative to help communities across the country prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small.

Known globally as the Ambassadors of Goodwill, the Harlem Globetrotters’ Great Assist initiative, which was launched in October 2015, promises to spread 100 million smiles over the next decade through sportsmanship and service. As part of a two-year partnership, the Red Cross will engage the Harlem Globetrotters in all aspects of its mission. During the first year, the team will join the Red Cross, along with local fire departments and other community partners, as the organization works to install its one millionth smoke alarm by October 2017 to help Americans stay safer from home fires. The Red Cross has already installed more than 500,000 smoke alarms nationwide, and saved at least 116 lives.

“Our partnership with the Harlem Globetrotters provides the Red Cross with an incredible opportunity to share our lifesaving mission with even more people and to raise urgently needed funds for families at risk for home fires and countless other disasters,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “The Great Assist initiative is closely aligned with our Red Cross values, and we look forward to embarking on this new journey with the team and its fans.”

In 2016, the Red Cross responded to 15 major disasters — 50 percent more than the year before — making it a particularly devastating year for thousands of families affected by historic floods, hurricanes, raging wildfires, tornadoes, home fires and more. In fact, the Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes, most of which are home fires. Each year, more people are affected by home fires than major disasters, and on average, seven people die every day from a home fire.

“This partnership brings two great American organizations together in order to achieve a common goal — to help people in need and to put smiles on people’s faces,” said Howard Smith, President of the Harlem Globetrotters. “We look forward to helping the Red Cross achieve their goals by incorporating their messaging into everything we do on and off the court.”

The Harlem Globetrotters will feature the Red Cross at more than 300 games throughout the basketball season, which starts on December 26, 2016 and runs through the spring. Each game will feature a Red Cross PSA announcement, player appearance opportunities and more.

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