After World War II, a group of charities, with support from the US government, established CARE packages were successful not only in helping millions of Europeans survive the immediate aftermath of the war but also in creating a wealth of goodwill toward the US that survived at least into the upheavals of the Vietnam War., which sent supply packages to civilians throughout western Europe in an effort to help them rebuild. The
Now that program, which was renamed “Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere” in the 1990s, is using the ubiquity and flexibility of the internet to customize its service and support.
The original packages included sugar, flour, coffee, margarine, and the like. As the program was expanded to include regions besides Europe, efforts were made to tailor the CARE packages to the needs and tastes of the community being assisted.
Nowis using the internet to tailor the packages even more. Donors can pick the areas and even individuals they would like to help. They can then fill their personalized CARE packages with what they know the recipients need.
The impact these packages have can be life-saving and life-long. A lovely story by Stephanie Strom of The New York Times tells of how a German woman’s family survived on CARE packages in 1946-1947. The woman, Marta Edie, and countless like her were amazed at the generosity of people who were fighting against the Nazis just a year or two earlier.
She went on to marry the US soldier who helped deliver the packages in her area, Dayton Edie, and they now live in Kentucky. Moreover, she has made donations to CARE and has recently sent her own customized packages.
The proven success of the program will surely only enjoy a renaissance of cultural impact as people use the ease of browsing the web to send their packages with what is needed where it is needed. Perhaps the US will enjoy a resurgence in goodwill as well, as people witness the marrying of an older, well-established, program with the latest technology.