1893

Grand Rapids Mayor William J. Stuart chairs a meeting to organize a charitable effort in the middle of the depression. Walter L. Casper is hired to take charge of the work.

"The fame of this city as a charitable one is well established, but no city can distribute charity evenly or justly without organization." -Mayor Stuart, 1893

1898

Consolidation of the city's charities is recommended by businessman John W. Blodgett. He wrote, "Grand Rapids is preeminently a charitably inclined town. If a business man is approached once or twice a year only for contributions, he will give what he feels he is able, but if he is continually approached by beggars for commendable charities he will, in time, endeavor to get out of each as cheaply as he is able.  Were our charities to consolidate they would become a part of the machinery of our city."

1921

Federation joins the National Information Bureau of New York. 23 agencies are included in the campaign. Daily luncheon updates on the campaign are usually held at Hong Ling Lo Restaurant. Cobbler gives 10 cents, all he can afford with five children of his own. Designations proposed in reorganization meeting to increase interest in the fund drive. Important decision on funding. Agencies will get funds as designated on pledge forms. If no funds are designated, trustees are allowed to fund as they see fit. Julius H. Amberg, a prominent Grand Rapid attorney, is elected president of the Welfare Union. 

1927

The Welfare Union is the clearinghouse for Christmas gifts to avoid duplication of effort. Special meeting of the board to discuss the feasibility of the YMCA joining the Union. Grand Rapids is one of 300 cities using the approach of pooling agencies and raising all of the funds once a year.

1928

Wall Street markets crash. 

"Red Feather" symbol used for the first time. Donors wear them in their hats. Suburbs included in the campaign for the first time. Special April Campaign. John W. Blodgett donates $10,000. Huge parade kicks off the campaign. 

1931

Director of the Welfare Union approved the name change to Community Chest. For the first time, public utility employees have their own division in the campaign. Senator Arthur Vandenberg is the keynote speaker for the campaign kickoff, and an army of 1,400 workers help fundraise. 

1932

A thermometer on the outside of the Pantlind Hotel marks the progress of the campaign. Major change in the makeup of the board of directors, 12 from the community and 12 from the participating agencies. 

"…love thy neighbor as thyself and our community as we love it will survive." -Julius H. Amberg 1932

1933

Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt leads the Women's Crusade to support and assist charitable agencies. The Salvation Army and the YMCA withdraw from Chest membership and run separate campaigns. Agency displays in leading department store windows. One in seven people in Kent County are dependent on public funds. Agency budgets are cut as the campaign fails by 1/3 to meet the need. Change in the organization allows for continuing pledges and organization of Employee Fellowships in commercial and industrial organizations.