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.

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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.

 

 

First Goal Attained; But the Work Never Ends

(Looking back 100 years at the Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter)

By Doug Bardwell, American Red Cross Volunteer

As the nation prepared to celebrate Independence Day, Tuscarawas County was celebrating the formation of their new Red Cross Chapter.  Organized at the beginning of July 1917, the chapter’s initial goal was to raise $30,000 locally.

By this time, the national goal of reaching $100-million had already been attained, but as Red Cross State Secretary D.C. Daugherty explained, “The needs of the Red Cross in doing its great work of mercy are so enormous that every dollar given, no matter how much over the stipulated amount asked, can be used advantageously in its humanitarian mission of relief and succor to suffering humanity, whether its distress be from war, pestilence, famine, flood or fire or any other form of disaster.”

During war time, Daugherty explained that the Red Cross was responsible for maintaining hospitals at the front, base hospitals, convalescent hospitals, as well as hospital ships and hospital trains. In addition, the Red Cross assists Y.M.C.A. recreation camps, extends relief to soldiers’ dependents, and aids the thousands of homeless and helpless victims of war.

Understanding that not only would people abroad be helped, but also the Red Cross would be there for the hometown boys from New Philadelphia, the newly formed chapter was eager to begin doing what it could.  Typical for the time, men formed committees to raise cash donations, and the women began sewing projects to provide hospital supplies.

A workroom was opened in Eagle Hall, above the New Philadelphia City Council offices, for the volunteer women workers. Open four days a week from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., the workroom was equipped with sewing machines, tables and chairs. Women were told to bring their own scissors, and they began making hospital supplies and articles of comfort for the soldiers.

Not unlike today, con artists must have been a problem for these early volunteer organizations as well.

On July 3, 1917 a statement was issued in the Daily Times of New Philadelphia, from the national headquarters of the American Red Cross, denouncing the use of chain letters and similar methods of raising money. Members and friends of the Red Cross were urged to neither donate nor assist those fostering such schemes.

Today, you can rest assured that donations made to the Red Cross are well spent. In addition, did you know that the Red Cross now also accepts used automobiles as donations? Learn more at https://neoredcross.org/donate/.

Red Cross Workers

Typical Red Cross workroom during WWI – photo courtesy of CTDA