2012 Neediest Families Christmas Fund Drive
BY Staff Reports
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Since 1993, the Tulsa World has raised more than $5.3 million for families in need through its Neediest Families Fund drive.
The drive raises funds for The Salvation Army in the Tulsa area to help provide holiday assistance and more.
The families in the program are chosen during the Christmas assistance sign-up period. This year's goal is $300,000.
Before the Neediest Families Fund was the Santa Pal Project.
That effort was started in 1928 by the Tulsa Tribune as a way to provide gifts and food for needy families at Christmas.
In the first year, 50 families were profiled, and 25 were adopted.
Today, the Neediest Families Fund provides holiday assistance to thousands of Tulsans each year.
The Santa Pal Project was a chance for readers to adopt a family selected by the Family Welfare Society and meet that family’s needs.
The first profile featured a boy and a girl who had been abandoned by their parents.
The story said the father was “somewhere in the oil fields,” and the mother left them in the care of a relative who, in turn, left them with the Welfare Society to be raised.
“Hardly more than babies, they nevertheless feel themselves deserted, and sometimes cry with loneliness,” the article said. “If some Tulsa Santa Claus could give these children warm clothing, they would appreciate it.”
Another profile was of a family with six children living in a tent with a father “racked by tuberculosis.”
The father was a stable hand, and the mother took in laundry. They walked to The Salvation Army twice a week for food.
Because their tent was often damp, the family was asking for a floor.
“For Christmas, they ought to have clothing all around, some playthings for the youngsters and the floor in that tent,” the article said.
By 1930, the campaign’s name was changed to Neediest Families, and it became a partnership with Family and Children’s Services and the Community Chest, which later became the United Way.
By 1939, the campaign had grown so much that readers were providing holiday assistance for 160 families.
In 1948, the Tulsa Tribune started its partnership with The Salvation Army. To this day, the money raised is turned over to that agency to care for the families it identifies as needy.
The Tribune closed in 1992, and the Tulsa World took over the tradition.