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American Red Cross

March is Red Cross Month

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March has officially been declared Red Cross Month by order of a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Barack Obama on March 1, 2009, marking the 66th time the month of March has been celebrated in honor of the organization!

So, you may be thinking “What exactly is Red Cross Month?” 

9999010879-mWell, here is your history lesson! For the first quarter century of its existence, the Red Cross held no regular fund-raising drives. Since its creation, the Red Cross was largely dependent on publicity and funds from spontaneous support of people who learned of catastrophic events and Red Cross response to them.  This all changed in 1917, when the United States entered into World War I and the American Red Cross was asked by the President Woodrow Wilson to raise funds to support its aid to the military. In response, the Red Cross held its first national War Fund drive in June of 1917 with a goal of $100 million (an astoundingly large sum at the time!). Over $115 million was raised during the effort! In December 1917, the Red Cross held its first “Christmas Roll Call,” asking people to give at least $1 and continued to do War Fund Drives til the last year of the war.

3g09652u1After the war, the Red Cross decided to make the Roll Call an annual event and would additionally conduct special appeals from time to time in response to major disasters (like the Dust Bowl and periodic flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers). In November 1941, with war in Europe, the Red Cross had another successful 25th Annual Roll Call. A few days later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II and the American Red Cross began campaigning again for the War Fund.

Instead of the Annual Roll Call in 1942, the Red Cross after discussions with President Franklin Roosevelt (the honorary chairman of the Red Cross) the whole month of March 1943 was declared “Red Cross Month” and a goal of $125 million was set, the biggest amount ever asked for in one campaign by any American organization. Again, the response was overwhelming! It took less than 6 weeks to reach the target and by June 1943, donations totaled nearly $146 million. Roosevelt called it the “…greates single crusade of mercy in all of history.”

Thus, with its succes, the Red Cross to repeat the March drive during the remaining years of the war and then to make it the occasion of its annual membership and fund-raising efforts ever since!

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This entry was posted on March 2, 2009 by in Chapter Updates.

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