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The Original CARE Package

75 years after World War II, the CARE Package has evolved and today powers change in new, lasting ways.

A cardboard box stamped,

At the end of World War II, CARE introduced the first CARE Package® for the post-war hungry, ultimately delivering 100 million of them to families around the world.

For 75 years, CARE has been helping those in need around the world. In response to COVID-19, for the first time ever, CARE called on all Americans to help deliver new CARE Packages - financial support and messages of hope - to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers and individuals in need around the world.

The History of the CARE Package

CARE was founded in 1945, when 22 American organizations came together to rush lifesaving CARE Packages to survivors of World War II. Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, contributed to the effort. On May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages reached the battered port of Le Havre, France.

Today’s CARE Package takes the form of a donation to help communities in the greatest need.

What was in the first CARE Package?

These early packages were U.S. Army surplus “10-in-1” food parcels intended to provide one meal for 10 soldiers during the planned invasion of Japan. We obtained them at the end of the war and began a service that let Americans send the packages to friends and families in Europe, where millions were in danger of starvation. Ten dollars bought a CARE Package and guaranteed that its addressee would receive it within four months.

A CARE Package. One the side is printed a list of typical contents, including

When the “10-in-1” parcels ran out, we began assembling our own food packages, greatly assisted by donations from American companies. At first, senders had to designate a specific person as the recipient, but soon CARE was flooded with donations to send CARE Packages to “a hungry occupant of a thatched cottage,” “a school teacher in Germany,” and so on.

Later packages included carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies and medicine – and we expanded delivery to other regions in need including Asia and Latin America.

Every CARE Package is a personal contribution to the world peace our nation seeks. It expresses America's concern and friendship in a language all peoples understand.

President John F. Kennedy

A CARE Package, On The Occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s Wedding

An original CARE Package recipient reminisces on receiving a "gift from America" in November 1947.

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Leo & Helga – Finding Love in CARE Packages

Leo and Helga Kissell met in Germany during World War II. After Leo returned to the USA, he sent Helga one of the first CARE Packages. Within three years, they were married.

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