French-American Aid for Children has a rich and vibrant history. We’ve been committed to improving the lives of children since 1939.
Pictured above: Minutes taken in long hand on Friday, October 13, 1944. These minutes make reference to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Relief Control Board and the involvement of French-American Aid For Children sending aid to France.
FAAFC work began in November 1939, when a group of dedicated women founded the Committee of French-American Wives in New York City, composed of French women married to American citizens. The founder was Mrs. Leonard B. Smith, who was skillful in organizing and motivating others, and who remained active until 1955.
Loyal to their adopted country and concerned about the ravages of war, the Committee was granted license no. 184 by President Franklin Roosevelt's War Relief Control Board, and operated under strict government control. Through her friendship with Anne Morgan, chairman of the Coordinating Council of War Relief Agencies, a Francophile and daughter of J. P. Morgan, Mrs. Smith was able to establish contact with the Quakers (American Friends Service Committee) and the American Red Cross working in Europe.
The group sent over 1000 parcels to French prisoners of war. With the Liberation, thousands more packages were sent to Europe, filled with blankets, clothing, powdered milk and other necessities for distressed French families and orphans. A mobile x-ray machine was bought and sent to Europe. During that time, a number of organizations who wanted to send funds for charitable purposes to France and England used the Committee. It retained a fee of 5%, a welcome source of income. For her remarkable efforts, in 1950, France decorated Mrs. Smith with the insignia of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
After the war, the group recognized a continuing need to raise money for relief organizations through private, volunteer efforts. The group has never had a project of its own in France. Its aim was always to aid well-established relief organizations and to answer appeals, wherever they may come from, in times of emergency.
Over the last 70 years, FAAFC has provided funding to either French or American organizations dedicated to children which has amounted to several million dollars.
Today, FAAFC is composed of members from France, America and many other countries who take great pride in increasing its support to unfortunate children both in the United States and France, thereby strengthening the bonds of friendship between these two nations. The group is still in operation as a tax-exempt organization for over seventy years. Our gala, the "Bal des Berceaux" is the group's main annual fund raising event.