Yule Fund Baskets
WDAY and The Fargo Forum held a radio auction on this day in 1939 to raise funds for Fargo’s Christmas basket fund. Providing baskets filled with all of the makings of a holiday dinner to families in need, the basket fund has been organized by Fargo’s Salvation Army since the city’s early history. In 1939, it was estimated that six hundred and fifty Fargo families would be in need of the baskets. At a cost of $3 per basket, that meant that nearly $2,000 would need to be raised. WDAY and the Forum teamed up to meet the fund-raising challenge with a variety of innovative methods.
The fund-raising included a benefit dance at the Crystal Ballroom, a surprise radio auction, and a stage show at the Fargo Theater. The surprise auction was announced in response to the shortage of donations. As of December 20, the city had raised only half of the estimated goal. On that morning, WDAY announced that a radio auction would be held from 7 to 9 that evening with all proceeds going into the basket fund. Area businesses and residents donated various items to be auctioned off, including a 910-pound cow donated by West Fargo’s Union Stockyards. The auction proved a huge success, raising nearly $200 for the fund, but organizers were disheartened to see that they were still $800 short of their goal.
The Forum launched an urgent campaign to gather the missing funds. Individuals began phoning in donation pledges to WDAY, and two of the station’s vehicles were kept busy picking up the phoned-in pledges in person. Organizers were happy to announce by the 23rd that the goal had finally been reached. At the last minute, the Manchester Biscuit Company even donated $150 worth of fruitcake to be added to the holiday baskets. Thirty workers from the Salvation Army and the Catholic Welfare bureau began assembling the baskets on the morning of the 22nd. Soon, the six hundred and fifty families that organizers had anticipated to receive baskets had come and gone, and still more families arrived. In the end, eight hundred Fargo families received the baskets, with city residents generously donating to meet the growing need. Across the river, an additional two hundred families were given baskets through a similar program in Moorhead.
This year, the Salvation Army’s Christmas basket program has combined forces with the Firstlink Holiday Clearing Bureau’s Christmas gift program in an effort titled the “Season of Hope”. The two groups will work together to provide needy area families with food and gifts for the Christmas season.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). December 20, 1939: p. 1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). December 21, 1939: p. 1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). December 22, 1939: p. 1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). December 23, 1939: p. 1.
The Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune (Morning ed.). December 24, 1939: p. 1.
--Jayme L. Job