Dime banks tell story of President’s cause
Portage County Gazette
Members and friends of Nay-osh-ing Chapter DAR viewed vintage chrome metal tube Dime Banks and learned a bit about their history at a meeting held at Shooters Supper Club in Plover April 18.
After the business meeting, Chapter Regent Shannon Moore introduced Betty Andringa, who presented a program written by Susan Hopfensperger, Nashville, Tenn.
In 1921, at the age of 39, Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted polio and lost the use of his legs. With the help of the media and Secret Service, Roosevelt kept his condition out of the public eye until after he became President of the United States of America in 1933.
While he was in the White House, an FDR supporter donated $25,000 to establish a series of “birthday balls,” which doubled as celebrations of the President’s Jan. 30 birthday and fundraisers for his favorite cause, which was the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation that Roosevelt had begun in 1926.
More than 600 birthday balls were held across the country during the first year. They raised $1 million and became an annual tradition.
Roosevelt’s personal experience and the success of the birthday balls encouraged him to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) in 1938 as a nonpartisan association of health scientists and volunteers. The tagline of the balls, “dance so that others may walk,” became closely aligned with the fight against infantile paralysis.
Vaudeville star Eddie Cantor promoted the new foundation by making a play on the “March of Time” newsreels common at the time. He urged Americans to participate in a “March of Dimes” that would reach all the way to the White House.
People used the pocket sized banks to collect dimes and sent them to Roosevelt. Each dime bank held $5 in coins. They came to be called “March of Dimes” banks, but it was 1976 before the NFIP officially adopted the name March of Dimes.
Those relatively small donations from many people across the country, combined with larger donations, enabled much polio research. There were more than 3,100 chapters of the NFIP, operated almost completely by volunteers, by the 1950s, showing that there was a genuine grassroots effort to eradicate polio.
In 1941, the foundation provided funding for the development of an improved iron lung, which helped polio patients to breathe when muscle control of the lungs was lost. Albert Sabin, Jonas Sauk, and other researchers had developed and licensed a polio vaccine by 1955. Since the release of the Sauk vaccine, the disease has been eradicated from this country.
Any woman 18 years of age or older, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible for membership in the DAR.
Additional information about Nay-osh-ing Chapter, Plover, is available from Shannon Moore, Regent, 715-498-0912, [email protected] or Susan Schultz Hopfensperger, Registrar at 615-662-3486 [email protected]