Then and Now, Young Americans Support the Red Cross

It Began with Six Young Volunteers

In 1884, six children put on a play that raised $50 that they donated to the then three-year-old American Red Cross.  Red Cross founder Clara Barton used the money to aid a family affected by severe Midwestern floods.

Students became involved for the first time in a war effort in 1898, when they helped provide medical support and comfort to American soldiers and their families during and after the Spanish-American War.

The Junior Red Cross

World War I inspired an official organization for young people: the American Junior Red Cross. Students knit scarves, rolled bandages and built furniture for hospitals and convalescent homes.  They prepared and sent Friendship Boxes containing school and personal items to students overseas.  They worked in Victory Gardens (vegetable gardens that added to the nation’s food supply) and raised funds.  In fact, Junior Red Cross members contributed an amazing $3,677,380 to the Red Cross during the war.  During World War II, Junior Red Cross membership grew to almost 20.

Today’s Youth and Young Adult Program

Thousands of civic-minded youth help us fulfill our humanitarian mission.  Local community clubs and Red Cross School Clubs provide opportunities for leadership development, community service and training in life-saving skills.

Young Red Cross volunteers and the work they accomplish are as diverse as the U.S. population.  They are:

  • middle school students educating fellow students about disaster preparedness;
  •  high school students raising funds to vaccinate children in third-world countries;
  • athletes organizing blood drives on college campuses; and
  • they are nursing students training to serve in community disaster shelters.

Every day, youth make a difference in their community through their work with the American Red Cross.  Join our efforts. Contact Shawna Dias at


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