A Small Sampling of 100 Years of The Emergency Aid

The Emergency Aid was founded by eight Philadelphia women in October 1914 to provide relief to those suffering abroad from the hardships of World War I.  


o    Its reputation spread such that within six months former President Theodore Roosevelt visited its Home Relief headquarters, which had been donated, with utilities, by Rodman Wanamaker. 


o    In response to a request from Washington D.C. it collected funds and clothing for Belgian relief so effectively that it supported 11 towns and 2,000 Belgian children with food, as well as raising thousands of dollars for The American Hospital in Paris and shipping tons of coal there.


o    The Governor of Pennsylvania designated the Emergency Aid to be the primary agency to send supplies and comforts to the Pennsylvania men overseas.  The American Soldiers and Sailors Club was opened in Paris to serve as an intake location for those supplies. 


o    The Mayor of Philadelphia appointed The Emergency Aid to partner with the Red Cross to provide civilian relief at home for the families of enlisted men.


o    The Emergency Aid raised millions of dollars for the civilian needy during the war, and repaired and reclaimed 35,000 overcoats for servicemen.


o    The Emergency Aid sent six Philadelphia women to the war zone to work as volunteers, and it supervised the recruiting of 5,000 women for war service at eight recruiting stations. 

o    The Emergency Aid managed the canteen for the workers at the Frankfort Arsenal.


o    In Europe The Emergency Aid founded a permanent hospital for sick children, and supported a convalescence home in Belgium, while assisting Washington to feed 3,500,000 starving children.


o    At home The Emergency Aid established The Girls’ Trade School in Philadelphia for women factory workers who were out of work.


o    The 1916 Infantile Paralysis epidemic prompted the Philadelphia Director of Public Health to designate The Emergency Aid to supervise all convalescent care of its victims, and to manage the transportation of Infantile Paralysis (polio) patients to the hospitals for their treatment.


o    The Emergency Aid established a nursery for the orphans of the 1918 influenza epidemic.


o    The Emergency Aid provided urgent relief for disasters worldwide such as the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the 1921 Chinese Famine, the 1926 Florida Hurricane, the 1927 Mississippi Flood, and the 1923 Japanese Earthquake, including a large X-ray machine for Tokyo’s St. Luke’s Hospital.


o    On a lighter note The Emergency Aid played an important role in Philadelphia’s monumental 1926 Sesquicentennial celebration.


o    During The Great Depression The Emergency Aid fed thousands of children daily, and made weekly distributions of bread and cereal to the unemployed through 32 welfare agencies.



o    In 1940 The Emergency Aid’s French War Relief Committee and its British Committee were reactivated and they sent funds and woolen articles of clothing to Europe.


o    Its Committee for Refugee Children was organized to support evacuated British children temporarily adopted into American homes.  It also sponsored the Philadelphia branch of “Save the Children Federation” to provide funding for the homeless children still in England.


o    The Food Conservation Committee donated canned food for General de Gaulle’s forces in Africa.


o    The Empress of Ethiopia personally thanked The Emergency Aid for supplying blankets for her Ethiopian soldiers.


o    The Emergency Aid operated a Work Room for all Allied Relief Committees in the John Wanamaker building.


o    The Motor Corps assisted the U.S. Army in fingerprinting at defense plants as well as operating a truck ambulance.


o    The Emergency Aid’s Overseas Committee was utilized by the U.S. Marine Corps to produce 15,000 survival kits for servicemen stationed in the Pacific.


o    An Emergency Aid flag was hung in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg to honor all Pennsylvania men and women in the Armed Forces.


o    The Emergency Aid was honored by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for all of its work during World War II including selling war bonds in excess of $68,000,000.


o    The U.S. Navy awarded The Emergency Aid its Certificate of Achievement.


o    When the war effort was concluded The Emergency Aid devoted itself to challenges at home, whether meeting the needs of victims of Cerebral Palsy, or providing transportation for the handicapped, or aiding Services to the Blind, or supporting Meals on Wheels, or collecting and distributing books, magazines and games to hospitals and the Philadelphia Navy Yard, or giving thousands of volunteer hours each year to area hospitals.


o    The Emergency Aid was awarded the Dr. Benjamin Rush Medal and bronze plaque by the Pennsylvania Medical Society at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh in 1949 in recognition of The Emergency Aid’s service in the field of health.


o    In 1950 The Emergency Aid hosted a gathering at its headquarters for 30 foreign students from 17 countries to promote international goodwill and understanding.


o    During the Korean War The Emergency Aid adopted an orphanage in Korea, and it staffed a receiving depot in center city for clothing for Korea, collecting thousands of pounds of clothes. 


o    In 1956 The Founders Awards for Good Citizenship was established for teen-age girls who demonstrate outstanding service and leadership in their schools, communities and churches.


o    Starting in 1927 The Emergency Aid mounted the annual United Christmas Bazaar for more than a half-century, giving hospitals and institutions the opportunity for their women’s exchanges and their handicapped to hold a fundraising sale of the wares from their occupational therapy departments.




The Emergency Aid Today


Now in our Second Century, the women of The Emergency Aid work to improve the lives of women and children in the

five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania area by providing Grants to effective non-profits, and by fostering education, leadership and community service through Mentoring and Scholarships. 



Scholarships, Mentoring and Founders Awards


Awards are presented annually to twenty ninth grade girls in the five-county area who are nominated by their school principals or counselors for demonstrating community service and leadership.


The Emergency Aid provides mentoring and seminars for them, cultivating personal growth and academic achievement, where they learn both from EA volunteers and from each other. 


Throughout their high school years they participate in community service projects which The Emergency Aid offers them in local non-profits, where they will benefit from hands-on experiences and prepare to become contributing members of their communities.


At the culmination of that mentoring process they are eligible to receive an Emergency Aid College Scholarship. 


All Scholarship recipients are paired with an EA member who continues to mentor them throughout their college careers.





The Emergency Aid awards grants to small local non-profit agencies that utilize volunteers in enhancing the quality of family life, especially as it pertains to woman and children.


The Emergency Aid accepts applications from tax-exempt non-profit organizations which are located in Southeastern Pennsylvania with annual budgets not exceeding $2,000,000. 


The Distribution Committee’s in-depth evaluations and personal site visits result in the awarding of more than thirty grants annually to agencies as diverse as:


CASA/Youth Advocates

Children’s Crisis Treatment Center

Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County

Family Support Line

Maternity Care Coalition

Mother’s Home

RSVP of Montgomery County

Youth Services Inc.

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