When disasters such as the earthquake in Napa Valley suddenly strike our communities, Wells Fargo supports the efforts of such long-established organizations as the American Red Cross to provide national and international disaster relief. For over 125 years, the Red Cross has coordinated relief efforts to communities immobilized by disaster and supported our troops and their families. Early on, Wells Fargo aided their efforts.
In 1909, a torrential downpour in northern Mexico resulted in flash floods with thousands becoming homeless overnight, many losing their livelihood when their farms were wiped out. The American Red Cross representative was U S. Consul General Philip Hanna, who coordinated the donations from U. S. citizens to fund the relief effort and worked with the Mexican Red Cross to arrange for the delivery of food, clothing, blankets, and mattresses to the survivors. A Red Cross hospital was organized where the sick received medical attention. In the worst areas, there were no trains for weeks after the flood. Wells Fargo lent its support by transporting food and Red Cross supplies free of charge to the victims of the flood and brought express shipments to the region free of charge for three months after the disaster.
In 1916, the Red Cross launched a national campaign to boost its membership to a million members with the goal of signing up 100,000 members in New York alone. Many of our wagons and motor trucks carried Red Cross banners that urged people to help by becoming members. Employees displayed Red Cross cards in office windows and placed pamphlets on counters for distribution to the public.
After the United States entered World War One in 1917, the Red Cross stepped up its efforts to support our troops abroad. Wells Fargo actively encouraged its employees to support the Red Cross and many took first aid classes and devoted their evenings to making bandages and other hospital necessities for the war effort. By June 1917, almost 1,000 Wells Fargo employees in Chicago had joined the Red Cross paying a total of $1,110 in dues.
By December 1917, Wells Fargo’s Red Cross membership drive continued through the holiday season with a new banner hanging from our Wells Fargo wagons and motor trucks. Coinciding with this public outreach, Wells Fargo bolstered its employee membership drive by publishing an ad in its Messenger Magazine that reached 10,000 offices throughout the U. S. and aboard encouraging employees to support the Red Cross.
“No Wells Fargo [employee] need be told of what the Red Cross is, or what it has done- nor about what it is doing to-day on the battlefields of the greatest war in history. While the Government sponsors it, the Red Cross depends largely upon public support, to enable it to carry on its merciful work in tending the wounded and alleviating the suffering right behind the firing lines. . . It costs only one dollar a year to be a Red Cross member – your nearest Red Cross chapter will be glad to receive your application. A heart and a dollar are indeed all you need.”
Today, the American Red Cross continues the work it started a century ago because it’s in our history to step up and help our communities. So, the next time you see a flyer for a blood drive 21 floors up, what should you do? I’m going to take a break and support the American Red Cross.