A Brief History of The Charity League
Two Longtime Members: Patti Lees and Dot Johnston
The Charity League of Atlantic County was organized in 1932 by Mrs. Clara Reeve Endicott (Mrs. Allen B. Endicott) as the Junior Committee of the Atlantic City Day Nursery. It consisted of a few area women who donated their time at the Atlantic City Day Nursery. This group provided day care services for working women.
The group expanded and in 1935 the Junior Committee became incorporated as The Charity League of Atlantic County. They increased their volunteer activities to include driving visiting nurses throughout the county, assisting at the Child Federation Baby Keep Well Station, aiding at the Florence Crittention Home, as well as rolling bandages for the American Red Cross.
At the time, the means of fund raising was through Garden Party Fashion Shows that were held at the home of Mrs. C.W. White who resided at the Marlborough Blenheim Hotel. All members contributed to the preparations. Tickets were $1.00 and approximately 75 guests attended each event.
As the times changed, Charity League decided that they wanted to financially support the social agencies to which they were volunteering their services.
In 1947, the first Christmas Mart was held in a little store front on the corner of Pennyslvania and Atlantic Avenues that was loaned to Charity League for this purpose. Baked goods and handmade items were sold at this mart.
The 1948 Christmas Mart was held at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Chelsea Section of Atlantic City. At this time, a committee visited a church bazaar that was held at the Dupont Hotel in Wilmington, Delaware. The group observed the incorporation of "Fancy Shops" along with handcraft items under one roof which provided convenient Christmas Shopping. The shops donated a percentage o their profits to the bazaar. The Charity League then adopted this idea for their own mart.
For many years the Christmas Mart was held at the Marlborough Blenheim Hotel, the Dennis Hotel and the Hadden Hall Hotel. In 1977, the Mart moved to the Atlanic City Country Club, where it resided for twenty years. As of November 2007, the Mart's new home is the Greate Bay Country Club, Somers Point, New Jersey.
The Charity League has become synonymous with beautiful sequined Christmas pins, tree skirts, table runners and stockings. Over the years, the Christmas Pin has become a collector's item. This year Charity League members will make approximately 6,000 pins, all of which will be sold out the first day of the Mart.
The Charity League Ball began as a formal affair for members only. The idea of opening the Ball to the commuity and incorporating our mission into the event was discussed by our membership. The first fundraising ball, The Snow Ball, was held.
The Charity League is comprised of 50 active members and numerous associate members. Our committees include the Christmas Mart, Christmas Pin, Fixings (Christmas ornaments and decorations), Christmas Stockings, Christmas Tree Skirts and Table Runners, Gourmet (cakes, pies, breads, cheeseballs, candy, etc) and annual Fundraiser. Each active member must volunteer a minimum of 200 hours per year and be actively involved in one or more of these committees to maintain their membership status.
The funds raised from our activities are distributed to several social agencies in the Southern New Jersey area. All of our designated agencies must submit a request for a specific item or items which we will fund.