American Red Cross
The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and a few acquaintences in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881. She campaigned for an American Red Cross society and for the ratification of the Geneva Convention protecting the war-injured, which the United States ratified in 1882. The Red Cross received its first congressional charter in 1900 and a second in 1905, the year after Barton resigned from the organization. Prior to the First World War, the Red Cross introduced its first aid, water safety, and public health nursing programs. With the outbreak of war, the organization experienced phenomenal growth. After the war, the Red Cross focused on service to veterans and enhanced its programs in safety training, accident prevention, home care for the sick and nutrition education. The Second World War called upon the Red Cross to provide services once again to the military, Allies, and civilian war victims. At the military's request, they also initiated a national blood program that collected 13.3 million pints of blood for use by the armed forces. After World War II, the Red Cross introduced the first nationwide civilian blood program that now supplies nearly 50 percent of the blood and blood products in this country. While closely associated with the federal government in the promotion of its objectives, the Red Cross is an independent, volunteer-led organization, financially supported by voluntary public contributions and cost-reimbursement charges.