Tuesday, January 3, 2012

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The Birth of The March of Dimes

At a school visit the other year, a 4th grader came to me and held out his hand. In it was a dime. "This is for you," he said. "For coming to our school." So sweet and yet how could I possibly take his money?

Hello?  It was a dime.  The answer was obvious. I didn't have to keep it.  "I'll give it to the March of Dimes," I promised.  He knew what that was because his class had just read Blue and done polio related studies.  

The March of Dimes is a non-profit founded in 1938 by Franklin Roosevelt to benefit the research and treatment of polio.  Thousands of children benefited. We all did because the money went a long way toward funding vaccine research.  January 3 is its birthday.

At first they called it The National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis.  But say that three times fast and you'll realize how catchy The March of Dimes sounds.  I have a small collection of dimes on my desk - each of them sent to me by the March of Dimes in separate envelopes - peeking out through plastic windows like little eyes - begging to be acknowledged.  With them come address labels and notepads as an incentive for me to give back to the foundation.  

I could just drop the dimes into my change purse and spend them on whatever.  Except that I can't.  Like the dime in the 4th grader's hand they just feel destined.  Today's date reminds me that it's time to click on over to The March of Dimes website and make a contribution.

Nowadays, since polio is no longer a problem in the U.S.,  The March of Dimes works to eliminate birth defects and premature births.  Obviously a worthy cause - in case you're looking for ways to start your New Year out with a really great feeling.


  1. Thanks for the reminder and the memory. When I was in school and Sunday school, we were always give a little cardboard coin holder from the March of Dimes to fill up with 10 dimes. I had forgotten about that. Time to send more dimes their way.

  2. Alex, I remember those cards too. Collectors items now!

    Thanks for being a good citizen!

  3. Oh yeah, I remember those cards too! Actually, I recently saw a billboard saying how polio hasn't been totally eradicated. I guess they still need those dimes to keep on coming.

  4. Yes, Carol - it's true. Polio is still a problem for several countries in the world. Nowadays, if you want to contribute to the eradication effort, you would probably donate to Rotary International.

  5. What a worthwhile charity especially for those of us who love children. Thanks for the reminder of its birthday.

  6. What a wonderful story. And your post gets me thinking about the kids I knew as a child who'd had polio. Such a blessing that we don't have to worry about this now.

  7. Joyce, that's lovely about the little boy offering you a dime. I've known many a polio victim having grown up in India. It would be great if it were eradicated completely like smallpox.

    ps; I am reading Blue right now and loving it. Looking forward to meeting you at the Write2Ignite Conference.

  8. Vijaya - I will look forward to meeting you also. It's coming up soon!

    I read recently that India had no new cases of polio last year. So maybe we are getting there!