WWI Red Cross Day in Cheney
Have you ever thought that one reason people do not respond to certain movements is because they do not come in touch with those movements? That the reason people do not feel together, act together for some cause, is because that cause is not brought to their door?
That is what our able Red Cross committee thought when they were formulating plans to raise Cheney’s $2,000 apportionment. There were in the adjacent rural districts intelligent, prosperous farmers who would contribute generously. But how are they to be reached? By mass meetings? Yes, some of them. By literature sent to them? Yes, a few of them. The only practical way seemed to go to their homes, present the need of the great Red Cross organization, and receive whatever contributions were offered.
Accordingly, bright and early, seventeen automobiles, each containing two citizens and two costumed Red Cross girls, left Cheney in seventeen different directions. Zelah and I were in one of those cars, so I will tell only of our own experience.
In a very short item we had reached our first farmhouse. It seemed important that we should not fail there. We presented our case to a kind-faced woman, rather hesitantly, yet thoroughly. We wanted to arouse her interest, to secure her sympathy, and to bring her in closer touch with the great movement – yet we hoped she wouldn’t forget that dollar! She didn’t! The men, too, had a successful encounter with the owner of the place, so our expressions of triumphant joy as we left that place were not befitting our sober costumes, to say the least.
Our other experiences were much the same, yet as different and interesting as the many personalities were. One case stands out prominently as I think them all over. We stopped at a poor little cottage. A rather young, shabbily dressed woman with decided foreign accent greeted us wonderingly, yet with poise. We understood at a glance that there was a crying need for dollars in that home, so we told her of the work of the Red Cross, the thousands of women who made that work possible, then briefly told her of the membership plan. She thought seriously for a moment, then said, “I’ll give what I can.” When we took that dollar, we understood, I am sure, that it was truly a sacrifice, yet we felt that sacrifice, that feeling that she had been of use to a noble cause, gave her more happiness than the dollar ever could.
We we out all day. Did we find ready sympathy, a desire to help? Yes! Did we find a oneness of thought, a common fear, yet hope for our country in her crisis? Yes! Don;t let any uninformed pessimistic person tell you the United States is not together – is not really united in thought and feeling. She is, and therein lies her strength.
We were very happy when we turned in our funds and pledges that evening. Not only because of the $1,400 collected altogether, but because of what each dollar meant – it meant patriotism!
Unknown student author
Kinnikinick, July 1917, Cheney Normal School, Cheney, Washington