Volunteerism Essay

1448 Words 6 Pages
Philanthropy: An American Tradition

Manned by volunteer troops, the Continental Army defended the roots of United States. Its father, George Washington, and commander-in-chief of the army served without a salary and as a volunteer. From the very creation, American citizens have carried philanthropy in their veins. Over the past two centuries they have demonstrated generosity through charitable giving, volunteerism, and humanitarian efforts.
The Industrial Revolution fueled philanthropy in America. During 1870s, more than 100 millionaires lived in America. H.G. Horr from The New York Tribune Association (1892) counted as many as 4,000 millionaires. Olivier Zunz wrote about this period “more people made more money more rapidly than ever before
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Volunteers of the American Red Cross provided medical services for the military at home and abroad and established a Home Service Program to help military families. According to Lisa Taylor from the Library of Congress and American Red Cross, almost 20,000 Red Cross nurses provided much of the medical care for the American military, and nearly 5000 Red Cross ambulance drivers provided first aid on the front lines, which worked closely with American Field Service. During the First World War, 296 American Red Cross nurses and 127 American Red Cross ambulance drivers died in service to humanity (Taylor). American volunteers did not only provide support in the battlefield but also in the air. Before United States entered the Great War, the Lafayette Escadrille (Escadrille Américaine), French Air Service Squad mostly composed of American volunteer pilots, bravely fought against the German flying aces.
Americans raised charity for community improvement and poor relief during the Great Depression. According to Robert H. Bremner, over 100 million Americans gave more than $2.5 billion dollars per year for philanthropic causes during 1928. These numbers increased from $1.75 billion in 1921 to $2 billion in 1924 (Bremner 133). Charity giving through federated programs, community foundations, churches, and workplaces encouraged American families to budget for charitable giving, which gave America an everlasting philanthropic imprint.
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Citizens, which donated about $227 billion. The other sources came from bequests, corporations, and foundations. For instance, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated a total of $3 billion. The Gates Foundation, one of the biggest private foundations in the world, operates on a global level. Its Global Development Division works to eliminate hunger and poverty around the world. In addition, its Global Health Division aims to advance science and technology to fight diseases in developing countries. For example, the foundation sent $50 million to support emergency efforts and contain Ebola outbreak in other parts of Africa (Wilson and Christensen). Through the United States Division, the Gates Foundation donates money to libraries, colleges, and

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