RGA Policy Spotlight: Republican Governors And Spouses Are Giving Back To Their Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – To celebrate the season of giving, many Americans are dedicating their time to volunteering in their community, and Republican governors across the country are doing their part.

According to a recent survey, over 77 million Americans volunteered their time for a charitable cause in 2018. States led by Republican governors are leading the way when it comes to volunteering. Six of the top ten states in the country with the highest rates of volunteerism are led by Republican governors, with Governor Gary Herbert’s Utah topping the list as is the only state in which more than half of all adults spent time volunteering.

GOP governors and their spouses are also leading by example, giving back and helping to improve the lives of vulnerable communities. Governors have not only encouraged their residents to volunteer and serve through initiatives and policies, but many have donated their personal time and resources to volunteer work.


  • Following a number of significant natural disasters in Alabama this past year, Governor Kay Ivey worked to ensure impacted Alabamians can access resources through the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) to help provide recovery assistance. The governor participated in former baseball and football standout Bo Jackson’s “Bo Bikes Bama” event to raise awareness and resources for the GERF.


  • In his first year in office, Governor Doug Ducey designated Arizona’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism as the Service Enterprise Hub for the state. The initiative serves to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits to leverage volunteers and their skills to address community needs.
  • An executive order signed by Governor Doug Ducey established the Governor’s Council on Child Safety and Family Empowerment to align and coordinate faith-based and community resources to assist children who are in vulnerable circumstances or the child welfare system.
  • Governor Ducey recently launched the “Friends of the Farm” partnership between the Association of Arizona Food Banks and Arizona’s agriculture industry to bring more fresh food to the state’s food banks and those facing hunger.


  • In addition to serving Thanksgiving meals to homeless Floridians, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis have been committed to helping the state’s most vulnerable populations. Through her Hope For Healing Florida initiative, the First Lady launched Volunteer Connect, a platform that provides individuals with a centralized hub consisting of an array of different volunteer opportunities for those who are interested.


  • Through executive order, Governor Brad Little extended Serve Idaho, the state’s signature program encouraging volunteerism and community service. Serve Idaho promotes collaborative volunteering efforts among public, private, and nonprofit organizations.


  • Governor Kim Reynolds directed the Iowa Department of Administrative Service to develop a volunteer policy for state employees – the department will look at possible ways to make the process more flexible, allowing for state employees to give back to their communities.


  • Since taking office, Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed September 11th – October 10th  as Day to Serve Month, providing state employees with four hours of administrative leave to participate in volunteer activities across the state.


  • Governor Charlie Baker has spent time giving back to the community by helping distribute turkey’s to families in need for Thanksgiving, as well as joining the Salvation Army in their annual Red Kettle campaign.


  • A key pillar of Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant’s platform is volunteerism. Along with the First Lady, Governor Phil Bryant has teamed up with Santa Claus to deliver gifts and well wishes to children patients in Mississippi hospitals. Additionally, the First Lady has spent multiple years volunteering with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for Mississippi families.


  • This year, Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson launched the inaugural Heart for the Hungry food drive at the Missouri Governor’s Mansion. The successful event brought in over 3,000 pounds of food for The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri.


  • In a message to his fellow Nebraskans, Governor Pete Ricketts thanked the people of the Cornhusker State for their “courage, compassion, and resilience this past year” in giving back and aiding for one another during trying times, which included severe blizzards and historic floods. The governor also highlighted the additional volunteer opportunities available through the ServeNebraska and Nebraska Volunteer programs.


  • Last month, Governor Sununu kicked off the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, which benefits Granite Staters facing homelessness, and the Toys For Tots Holiday Drive, which collects toys for children in need.
  • The governor’s charitable efforts have extended beyond the New Hampshire border; in 2017 he sponsored a successful food drive to provide assistance to Puerto Rican families recovering from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.


  • Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine have been active in bringing attention for those who are facing hunger in Ohio. This past summer, Governor DeWine announced that through the Ohio Lottery, 7,500 pounds of food was donated for disaster relief efforts following tornadoes that occurred on Memorial Day, while the First Lady raised awareness for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.


  • Governor Kevin Stitt has taken action to encourage more foster families in Oklahoma, and has been an advocate for the foster care community. Along with First Lady Sarah Stitt, events have been held in support of the state’s foster care community, including a back to school event which provided free school supplies and haircuts for all children in attendance.


  • Governor Kristi Noem’s office is contributing to a volunteer-based organization called Sleep in Heavenly Peace, where 100% of the funds go to beds and bedding for kids in need. The campaign debuted in the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities in November and had over 50 requests for beds in the first day.
  • Governor Noem held the state’s first-ever SD LEADS conference this week in Sioux Falls, featuring free professional development programming for students, educators, and women. Governor Noem invited attendees at the womens’ session to bring gently used professional attire to donate to women in need, and made a personal donation.
  • Over the holidays, Governor Noem’s family will be donating canned foods to the local food bank in South Dakota’s capital city of Pierre.


  • Governor Bill Lee and First Lady Maria Lee have had a longstanding relationship with the Second Harvest Food Bank, which has continued to grow since being elected to serve the people of Tennessee. This year, they worked with Second Harvest to provide Thanksgiving meals to those in need.


  • This Thanksgiving, Governor Greg Abbott and his family continued a tradition by volunteering with Meals on Wheels to deliver meals to Texans. First Lady Cecilia Abbott has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels since long before her husband became governor.


  • Governor Gary Herbert and his staff participate annually in a volunteer shift at the Utah Food Bank; the governor has also encouraged Utahans to volunteer and donate their time at local food banks.


  • Governor Phil Scott has always valued giving back to the community, from removing and disposing of debris and damage at no charge following Hurricane Irene in 2011 to founding the Wheels for Warmth program. As governor, he has exhibited this same commitment to service by partnering with the Salvation Army.


  • Led by First Lady Jennie Gordon, Governor Mark Gordon’s office established the Wyoming Hunger Initiative to bring together an array of groups to address food security concerns and combat childhood hunger.