Spreading the Love: A Near East Relief Valentine


Near East Relief knew the winning combination for a Valentine’s Day campaign: lots of hearts and a sweet, smiling face.

Araxi Hubbard (center) won America’s heart when her cherubic face appeared on the back cover of the New Near East magazine in February 1921. Little Araxi was adopted by Near East Relief worker Mary Hubbard in Sivas; she came to America in 1920.

Anna (right) was the star of a 1924-1925 Valentine’s Day campaign. She smiled from the front of a small donation envelope, encouraging people to donate to the children of Near East Relief. She also appeared on a poster reminding Americans that 40,000 more children like her needed their help.



Near East Relief holiday campaigns were always popular, and Valentine’s Day was no exception. In 1922, eight students at North Dixon High School in Dixon, IL, tagged 130 classmates with red hearts to encourage them to contribute to a school-wide valentine for Near East Relief’s orphans. They gathered $99.21 — an average contribution of $0.76 per student.

The idea of an innocently flirtatious Valentine’s Day fundraiser caught on with young Americans. Within a few years, hundreds of other schools were raising funds for Near East Relief. In 1927 the schoolchildren of Illinois contributed an astonishing $7,542 to the Near East Relief Valentine’s campaign!

Children who could not give money sent traditional Valentine’s Day greetings overseas. In 1922 the New York City office of Near East Relief forwarded a large package of valentines, most of them from children in Nevada, to Beirut Managing Director Charles Fowle.

Mr. Fowle wrote that the parcel arrived several months too late for Valentine’s Day, but the staff would happily distribute the cards to the children as Christmas presents.

The children in the orphanages loved to decorate their simple dwelling spaces with whatever printed materials they could find: newspaper clippings and American advertisements were especially popular. There is no doubt that the colorful valentines were treasured by their young recipients.