• Hollywood Responds

    The new medium of film had produced a completely new phenomenon: the movie star. Popular silent film actors used their fame to publicize Near East Relief’s important work. Stars participated in Bundle Days by donating old clothes and collected canned food as the price of admission to special film screenings.

  • Slideshow: Posters and Publications

    Near East Relief created vibrant campaign materials to grasp the nation’s attention. Designed by some of America’s top artists, the posters and postcards were decorated with bright colors, captivating images, and memorable slogans.

  • Slideshow: Alice in Hungerland, a Near East Relief Film

    Young Esther Razon was living in a Jewish orphanage in Constantinople when she was selected to play the main role in Near East Relief’s 1921 film Alice in Hungerland. The silent film tells the story of an American child who stows away to Constantinople to visit her father, a Near East Relief worker.

  • 1920

    Bundle Days

    Orphans and adult refugees arrived at Near East Relief stations dressed in scavenged rags. In the States, local volunteers organized daylong campaigns to gather used clothing for shipment overseas. Bundle Day volunteers gathered sacks of sturdy clothing and shoes, which were then sorted based on gender and age. “The Bigger Your Heart, the Bigger the Bundle” was a popular Bundle Day slogan.

  • December 1923

    Golden Rule Sunday

    Beginning in 1923, Near East Relief urges families across the nation to eat a simple orphanage-style meal on the first Sunday in December. They are then asked to donate the difference between the orphanage-style meal and a normal Sunday dinner to Near East Relief. Several U.S. presidents issue proclamations and endorsements for Golden Rule Sunday, including President Calvin Coolidge.



  • Corporate Sponsors Pitch In

    Well-known American businesses like Heinz and Campbell’s donated goods and services for direct relief efforts. Non-perishable foods like condensed milk, canned soup, and cocoa powder were dietary staples for orphans and refugees.

  • Slideshow: The New Near East Magazine

    Near East Relief began producing the New Near East magazine in 1919 as a way to keep donors informed of developments overseas. The stories featured firsthand accounts from the field, including profiles of relief workers. Although publication was not always regular, the New Near East ran through 1927.

  • Slideshow: Jackie’s Million-Dollar Campaign

    At just nine years old, silent film actor Jackie Coogan became the original celebrity humanitarian. In 1924, the child star traveled across the country to raise one million dollars for Near East Relief.

  • Slideshow: Ravished Armenia

    Aurora Mardiganian was the first Genocide survivor to receive widespread attention in the United States. Published by the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (later called Near East Relief) in 1918, Aurora’s bestselling autobiography introduced thousands of Americans to one girl’s heartbreaking story of survival.

  • Despite the tremendous success of Near East Relief’s campaign for citizen philanthropy, startling changes were on the horizon. In late 1922 the sudden destruction of the historic city of Smyrna would dramatically change the trajectory of Near East Relief’s efforts.

    continue with The Burning of Smyrna