Monday, October 24, 2011

An Icon: The Care Package (tm)

Remember the Care Package?  It is now a trademark and has recently come out of
retirement to honor the 100th anniversary of 
International Women's Day.

The first Care Package was introduced in 1946, when life-
saving food and supplies were sent to Europeans after World 
War II. The Care Package quickly became an icon of American 
generosity and increased our awareness of global 
communities in need.

My first memory of the Care Package dates back    

to 1963.

As a young girl, I lived in a small farming community 
in Michigan. One summer the kids on our block decided 
to have a carnival and donate all the proceeds to 

I remember the fun we had putting together the various 
activities: go-cart rides for 25 cents, a nickel to read your fortune (that was me), throwing darts at balloons,
an iced cold lemonade stand, a craft table where you could make pictures (using glitter & glue--whoo hoo!), selling popcorn and decorated bags of chestnuts (I don't know the reasoning behind the nuts; after all, you could pick them up right off the ground!) We didn't know much about CARE, except that our efforts would help other children in the world who were very poor, far poorer than us in our scuffed up shoes and hand-me-down clothes. We had houses and food and toys and books, whereas these kids had nothing. And we were rewarded for our efforts. CARE sent each of us a free ticket to the local public swimming pool! How rich we were.

Then came college, when the Care Package again floated into my life. Chocolate chip cookies, my mom's infamous fudge, LifeSavers, toothpaste, a warm pair of socks. My roommate (from California) got olives and crackers and caviar (I'd never heard of caviar before). We pooled our goods and shared our mini-cultures (the middle west and the west coast). Years later, my two boys in college, one in Montana and the other in California, got their share of Care Packages from me: my mom's infamous fudge, cookies, toothpaste, beef jerky, socks. We had our own definition of Care Package in our affluent society that has endured through the generations.

"In the 65 years since the first CARE Package was delivered, CARE's anti-poverty mission has changed. Instead of delivering items in a box, CARE now delivers tools and resources that help empower poor girls and women around the world to create positive change in their lives. The Care Package has changed, too. Like its predecessor, the new Care Package is changing the way people invest in helping others." The new Care Package has gone digital. You can still send your own Care Package of life-changing gifts, in just one click. 

Maybe it will bring back some memories of a tradition that still lives on in all of our lives. 


  1. This is so inspirational. I send care packages to my sister who is attending college in Wyoming. So neat to read another perspective here! Great post!

  2. Wow Monica. This is so beautiful. It made me want to cry. Thank you for sharing such a poignant set of thoughts. You do have that gift. Love to you.

  3. I never knew the history behind the CARE Package, or that there was an organization by that name. Thanks for widening my horizon today!

  4. That first year in the dorm, the care package connected you to home, and there was nothing better than homemade chocolate chip cookies !

  5. I LOVED my college care packages- my mother was so faithful about sending them:)
    And thanks for stopping by my site. I look forward to reading more on yours!

  6. That's for sharing the history of the CARE packages! My favorite care package came just after I met my husband. Right before Christmas he received a package from his mom containing the most delicious cookies and fudge. The next Christmas, I couldn't wait for that package, but it never came. It turns out by marrying him during that year, I inherited the cookie duty!

  7. Such small rewards mean so much. Hope you enjoy baking. I only enjoy it around the holidays...otherwise, it's more a chore.

  8. While recently in Mexico for visit - heard about Mary Elmendorf - a true long-living Agent For Change. The more I learned about her,wondered why I/we never heard of her? She was part of that 1946 team that helped get the original CARE program a start. Thought maybe you and others reading your blog might want to know about this wonderful women.
    Here is some reference information:

    Still alive, age 96, she has recently published her memoir - From Southern Belle to Global Rebel. Once I got book, couldn't put it down. It covers her work - from CARE program in WWII - she was one of a group to be a Nobel Peace Laureate to almost 70 years worth of adding ideas and inspiration and hard work that has helped countless people around the world to a better life.

    1. Mariano...I couldn't be happier receiving your comment today about Mary Elmendorf...what a wonderful discovery. Thank you for the reference information...I look forward to reading her memoir.