published Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

History of the Neediest Cases

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell Jessica Salas, 7, watches television in her home with her siblings and cousins. Jessica's extended family lost their home and $1,500, a month’s worth of work, in a fire a few weeks before Christmas. The Chattanooga Times Free Press Neediest Cases fund, together with other social service organizations, came together to help the family get into a new home before the holidays.

The tradition started on Christmas Day 1911, when Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, went out for a walk after a big turkey dinner and encountered a shabbily dressed man on the street, according to The New York Times.

The man said he had just been given Christmas dinner at a Y.M.C.A. but had nowhere to sleep. The publisher looked him over, decided he looked respectable and gave him a few dollars and his card.

“If you’re looking for a job,” he said, “come see me tomorrow.”

The encounter left the publisher thinking about charity. The next year, he sent a reporter to several of the city’s private welfare agencies to collect stories about the poor. His plan was to publish stories about the Hundred Neediest Cases in New York. These small chronicles, it turned out, sounded a powerful call. The campaign began Dec. 15, 1912.

In Chattanooga, Ochs, former Chattanooga Times publisher, started the tradition in 1914 and continued after the merger of the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga Free Press in 1999.

Related links:

Article: Neediest cases: Year-by-year comparative totals

Article: A helping hand

about Staff Report...

Get breaking news from the Times Free Press on Twitter at or by visiting us on Facebook or Twitter at the right:

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.