At 25 cents a year, a subscription to The Messenger was a bargain. The monthly newsletter of the Lutheran Children’s Home of the South kept subscribers abreast of the Home’s pressing needs as well as the health, achievements, and activities of the children. Fortunately, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia has a large archive of Messengers, which gives us a peak into the challenges of running of the Home, a thriving farm and orphanage located in Salem, Virginia.
The articles in the Messenger could be heart-tugging as this one in 1927 that began, “On the night of August 10, the Superintendent was called to the telephone to be told by a man in Roanoke that on the porch of the west end of one of our buildings there was a baby boy in a box and to please take care of it until someone called.”
Among other happier reports were those of holiday celebrations, academic achievements and donations, where readers read of children making the honor roll, discovered that most of the 1,000-plus chicks donated to the Home by Price J. Huddle were doing well, and that on the Saturday before Easter in 1927, a surprise delivery of a piano donated by C. Markley of Roanoke delighted the girls in the McClanahan Cottage.
During the Depression, the need for funds and goods was a constant theme. In the November 1933 edition, readers were asked to donate not only money but much-needed items such as stockings for boys and girls, school supplies, thread, darning cotton, tooth paste, garter and bloomer elastic, sweaters, underwear and sheets.
And, not surprisingly, health concerns were always paramount. The alumni homecoming one year had to be cancelled due to a measles epidemic, and get well wishes to children and staff suffering from a variety of ailments were constant reminders that one of the primary challenges of running the Home was keeping the children and staff healthy.