Red Cross Funding – 1900’s style

Looking back 100 years at the Stark County and Muskingum Lakes Chapter

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

(Editor’s Note:  This is the latest in a series of centennial-related stories involving the founding of Red Cross chapters in Northeast Ohio.Centennial-Red-Cross-question)

July 5, 1917, the Red Cross was still not totally understood by many Americans.  Unusual in its charter, the Red Cross could have been considered both private and official.

As the Daily Times of New Philadelphia wrote on this date, “The government has adopted it officially as the auxiliary war relief service. The president of the United States by law is also the president of the Red Cross. Yet, the government does not finance the Red Cross.”

“On occasions, congress has voted contributions of money to it…but, the great volume of its funds spent for relief work is contributed by private individuals. Less than 30% of its receipts come from membership dues.”

They went on later to say that while many people were amazed that the Army did not increase their medical team to handle the increase in enlistees during WW1, that actually the Red Cross was found to be more efficient and cost effective.

At the time, all Red Cross volunteers were asked to join as dues paying members. $1 per year was expected unless the person was well-heeled financially, in which case they might pay $10 or $100 per year.

A local country club held a fund raiser for the Red Cross. Forty golfers played for club trophies and paid a penny a stroke, raising $50 for the Red Cross.

While not everyone could afford to donate, everyone could do something.  The newspaper reported that the Dover Bridge Club spent July 3, 1917 doing their part. Before having dinner, the members spent the afternoon sewing for the Red Cross.

Tuscarawas County was asked to contribute $30,000 toward the Red Cross War Fund in 1917. To get the word out, many papers provided free advertising to help with the cause. The example below appeared in The Daily Times in New Philadelphia.

smlx-war-fund-adv1

Readers might have been shocked to see that while the nation was supposed to be conserving and donating during war time, the city of Akron alone spent $2.7-million on liquor in saloons in the previous year.  Hmmm.

Today, you can do your part.  Donations couldn’t be easier. Donate by text, by email, by mail or online. You can even set up a monthly automatic donation.  All five links to giving are here.