'Neediest Cases' drive has benefited the Chattanooga area's hardest hit for more than a century

This collage represents some of the people who have benefitted from the Times Free Press Neediest Cases Fund in the past. Photo illustration by Shelby Farmer.

For more than a century, Chattanoogans and their daily newspaper have teamed up to help those in the community who have fallen on hard times.

One of the earliest listings of "Neediest Cases" appeared in December 1919 when 63 cases were reported "by responsible agencies," which at the time included the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Associated Charities. The Chattanooga Times' effort had been underway for "several years," newspaper archives show.

"The little biographies herewith bring a message to Chattanoogans which, we are confident, will not be ignored," the article in the Dec. 14, 1919, edition of the Chattanooga Sunday Times reads, "To the people whose simple stories are told on this page, your gift will mean more than something to amuse for a moment and then be cast away. To many of them, it will mean the humble comforts of life.