About LAH

LAH History

Lend A Hand Founder

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Dr. Edward Everett Hale became a Unitarian minister following his graduation from Harvard College in 1839 and a short period of teaching school. At his first church post in Worcester, Massachusetts, he became close friends with Frederick William Greenleaf (1820 – 1850) a congregant in Hale’s church. It was Greenleaf who inspired the character of “Harry Wadsworth.”

Hale’s intent wasn’t to start a movement when he wrote “Ten Times One is Ten.” He simply needed a story for a magazine he was publishing. However, following its publication, groups sprang up voluntarily to follow its example, setting as their ideal four mottoes Hale included in the story:

Look up and not down
Look forward and not back
Look out and not in
Lend A Hand

    Lend A Hand Campership Program

    Vacations and convalescent care were provided for men, women, and children who needed to get away from their daily cares. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, this goal continued to be met by sending children to summer camps.Book Mission History

      Lend A Hand Society Incorporated

      At first Hale’s publishing office served as the Lend A Hand office, becoming a clearinghouse for letters from individuals responding to Hale’s writing. By 1891 the volume of correspondence and publishing work had grown so large that the Ten Times One Corporation was formed as a central headquarters for the individual clubs. It was incorporated in 1892, and then, changed its name to the Lend A Hand Society in 1898.

      Hale became minister of the South Congregational Church, Unitarian, in Boston in 1856, as well as serving as the first president holding both positions until his death in 1909.

      Although Hale was a Unitarian minister, the Society was nonsectarian. Hale actively promoted and encouraged the establishment of Lend a Hand clubs which at one time numbered as many as 800.

      The day-to-day work of the Society was in collaboration with other relief agencies, providing aid to meet a need that might otherwise go unmet. Wheelchairs and hospital equipment were loaned to those in need, layettes were given to new mothers, and “gentlewomen” were enabled to earn some money by sewing garments to be distributed primarily to hospitals and the Red Cross.

      The work undertaken by Lend A Hand varied in scope from operating the Noon-Day Rest, a lunchroom for Boston’s working women from 1893-1899, to what later became one of the central aspects of our work, sending books to schools and libraries in the rural South.

      Beginning in the 1930’s and continuing into the 1970’s, small loans were made to college and graduate students to assist them in completing their education.

      Other Early Projects of Lend A Hand

      The Boston Floating Hospital was founded by the Reverend Rufus Tobey in 1894 to relieve the suffering of sick children in the hot city by providing them with fresh sea air and to treat the summer diseases of children. Tobey was aided in this work by Hale, and the Floating Hospital was a department of the Society from 1896 until 1901, when it became a separate entity.

      Beginning at the turn of the century and continuing for a great many years, the Society contributed to the medical missionary work of Dr. Wilfred Grenfell and the Grenfell Association in Labrador and Newfoundland.

      Origins of Lend A Hand

      The Lend A Hand Society grew out of the response to a short story called “Ten Times One is Ten”, written in 1870 by Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909). The story tells of ten people who meet at the funeral of a mutual friend Harry Wadsworth and discover that he had financially helped each of them. They each resolve to follow the example of Wadsworth and to help their friends, neighbors and others in the community. They calculate that if each person they help would in turn lend someone else a hand (10 x 1 = 10, 10 x 10 = 100, etc.), the powerful spirit of charity and giving would spread and grow.