The response we’ve seen in the community in regards to making cloth masks during the Covid-19 crisis, reminded me of Story City’s work on the home front with the Red Cross during WWI. The local chapter held larger events, drives, and fundraisers for the benefit of the Red Cross, but they were also tasked with various sewing and knitting projects that took place on a daily basis. By the beginning of July 1917, they had set up their headquarters in the domestic science room at the high school. Thirty ladies from the community had taken lessons for a week from a Miss Crawley of Ames and were ready to train others in the community. On a regular basis, a list of the medical supplies sewn by the group was printed in the Herald, including gauze bandages, pads, compresses, pillows, sheets, and pajamas. By August the local chapter was already gearing up for the winter and asking for woolen items to be knitted. They had been requested to knit 50 sets of sweaters, scarves, socks and wristlets. The American Red Cross supplied patterns and materials that had been approved by the military.
By the end of August the group was now meeting in rooms above the First Mortgage Investment Co.’s offices. Those wanting to volunteer were asked to come on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday afternoons. Girls who were still in school were asked to come on Saturdays. It was requested that volunteers help at least one afternoon each and every week. Margretha Marvick, secretary of the local chapter, wrote compelling articles in the Herald about volunteering for the Red Cross. The names of those who volunteered their time at the Red Cross rooms were printed in the Herald on a regular basis.
Another service that the Red Cross provided across the nation was the “Home Service Committee”. This service provided emergency relief, allowances, advice, encouragement, counsel, and information to the men in service and to their families. “An army’s morale is a most important factor in its success, and it was fully realized that a soldier’s morale was vitally affected by the situation of those at home. A man with a wife, with children, or with other relatives dependent upon him, can not put his best into his training and fighting unless he feels assured that these relatives are being well cared for in his absence.”
There is evidence in the Heralds that the Story City Red Cross chapter did their part with their home service committee duties. During the influenza epidemic in 1918, the local chapter put a call out for additional volunteers to help multiple families in the community who were effected by the flu. A letter from Everett Albert, who was in the army, was reprinted in the October 17, 1918 edition of the Herald, in which he thanks the Story City Red Cross home service for taking care of his family. “I wish to thank you for your kind interest shown towards my wife and also for relieving my mind by looking after my home affairs so nobly.”
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