The Penny Appeal

Letter from the Overseas Club appealing to children to bring a penny to school to pay for Christmas parcels for soldiers and sailors at the Front. © East Riding Museum Service.

A charity called the Overseas Club started an appeal to schoolchildren to raise money to send Christmas presents to soldiers and sailors serving overseas. Children were each asked to bring a minimum of one penny, roughly 50p in today’s money, to school for their teachers to collect. The money was used to buy cigarettes, tobacco, socks and chocolate to send to those on the front line.

The first appeal, at Christmas 1914, was successful so the appeal was repeated the following year.  The Overseas Club sent certificates to thank children who raised a certain amount of money.

Children contributed to the war effort in a number of other ways. They collected eggs for wounded soldiers and sailors, sent parcels to servicemen, and wrote letters to soldiers. The girls at Bridlington Girls’ High School organised a Christmas tea party in 1915 for 100 younger children whose fathers were away fighting at the front. The girls also made gifts such as shirts, bed-jackets, socks, slippers and plum puddings which they sent to hospitals and to servicemen.

Learning resources

For downloadable images, teachers’ notes and activity ideas about children’s contribution to the war effort in the Humber region, see www.mylearning.org.