American Red Cross After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the American Red Cross became the center of Home Front volunteer activity as it provided 7.5 million Americans the opportunity to join its "great civilian army of mercy" through more than nine different volunteer divisions.
The Production Corps, the largest division of the Volunteer Special Services with over 3.5 million volunteers at its peak in 1942-1943, produced over 2.5 billion surgical dressings. In addition, they sent millions of hand-sewn and knit garments, food packages, and other comfort items to American and Allied soldiers overseas.
The Winnetka Chapter of the Red Cross, headquartered at Christ Church Parish House, oversaw the production and shipment of more than 188,000 bandages by July 1, 1943. By the following July, there were 77 volunteers, including 34 men, producing close to 1500 bandages per meeting. Many other Winnetka Red Cross volunteers sewed clothes and knit socks and sweaters. Those volunteers who joined the Motor Corps drove supplies to Red Cross units on the North Shore. Red Cross Nurses' Aids and "Gray Ladies" served in understaffed civilian hospitals. Other volunteers worked as staff assistants providing administrative support in Red Cross offices, and aided servicemen's families through the Red Cross Home Service division.
One of the most visible services was the Canteen Corps, where Winnetka women served as hostesses providing food and entertainment at centers in Chicago, Ft. Sheridan, and Great Lakes Naval Station. Perhaps the most vital service provided by the Red Cross Home Front volunteers was the organization and promotion of mobile blood drives, held on a periodic basis at the Community House. The 13 million pints of blood that Americans donated during the war saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers throughout the world.