New Chapters Heed the Call During WWI

Looking back 100 years at the Summit, Portage & Medina Counties 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)

April 18, 1917 – The Akron Evening Times ran a story that Kent planned to organize a Red Cross chapter in that community.  A meeting had been held the night before with pastors of Kent churches all in attendance, along with officers of church organizations, lodges and clubs. A follow-up meeting was to take place that week to make sure the people of Kent did their part in the war crisis.

April 20, 1917 – Barberton began work to organize a Red Cross chapter and communicated their desire to do so to the national office in Washington.

By June 1917, Akron had already formed a Red Cross Chapter primarily for men. It was followed by an auxiliary for women on June 30, 1917. Election of officers found Mary Gladwin elected as president of the women’s auxiliary. She had just returned from serving in Serbia the year before. She was also named to the Akron executive committee along with six gentlemen.

At the June 30 meeting, 24 members of Battery B lined up on either side of the church entrance as people arrived. Upon the start of the meeting, they marched into the auditorium and joined in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Wasting no words, Miss Gladwin addressed their first meeting and scolded the Akron citizenry for their lack of patriotism during the recent deployment of troops the prior week as they headed off to Columbus. Her concern centered around the fact that in the “American” residence districts of Akron, there were entire blocks with not one American flag on display.

Centennial SPM-Submarine-U14[1]

November 1, 1917 found the formerly organized chapter in Medina to be doing an excellent job with their sewing.  Unfortunately, a German submarine sank a boat filled with Red Cross supplies. When a local Medina member told District Supervisor Mrs. Harrison Ewing that,  “I don’t think I want to knit if that is to be the fate of my work,” Mrs. Ewing would have nothing of it, responding “Don’t think, KNIT.” That appeared to be the end of that conversation, and discussion turned to lack of yarn and the need to prepare Christmas packets.

By the beginning of December, the yarn had been received and was already knitted into sweaters for the troops.

Girl Red Cross Workers.

Schools were already starting to organize their own chapters, with Seville and Medina schools ready to go. Children all over were raising money for the Red Cross in support of starving children in Belgium and Poland.  One little girl wrote the following:

“Dear Red Cross,

I have earned another dollar for the poor children. I have piled up all the pumpkins, and hauled four loads of chips, and pulled some weeds for the pigs and picked up all the scattered beans. I am eight years old today.”

 

With such dedication from someone so young, how could adults not pitch in?

Today, you can do your part.  Volunteer or donate.  Volunteers can learn more here.

Donating 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.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  –  –

All photos creative commons licensed

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.