CARE Then and Now: “I remember the excitement”

Ruth Martin (front row, left) pictured at the beginning of the War with (back row) her father William Johnson, mother Jessie, brother Kenneth, sister Bunty, (front row, middle) sister Brenda and brother Stephen

75 Years of CARE

CARE was set up in the USA in 1945 to send ‘CARE packages’ of food and other essential supplies to people in need in Europe after the end of World War 2. Ruth Martin was one of the original recipients of these first CARE packages.

Ruth Martin, now living in Godalming, Surrey, told us:

I was five when WW2 broke out so not very old by the time it finished.

However, I do have a clear memory of the excitement when the first parcel arrived, completely unannounced, and amazement at the goodies it contained.

I believe we received three parcels in all but the item that made an impression on me that still lingers today was the tall, slim, khaki-coloured tins that contained absolutely delicious sausages.

Later when my younger brother and I were at boarding school in Yorkshire, on two occasions those sausages provided our last evening meal before we returned to school for the term. So they had been kept for a special occasion.

One parcel was preceded by a very irate telephone call from the Post Master at Altrincham sorting office, informing us that a parcel addressed to us had burst and they had rice all over the sorting office.

He insisted that someone go down and clean it up, so my poor elder sister, who was acting as surrogate mother to Steve and myself and also nursing my mother who was often ill in bed for quite long periods, had to go down to clean the mess up. I remember the concern in the family at the waste of all that rice.

Thank you for your letter about your anniversary and the CARE parcels. I was so pleased to receive this with its clear explanation of the history of CARE International that has cleared up a mystery for me.

I was only asking my elder sister, aged almost 90, if she knew anything about the parcels we received after the War. Like me she thought it must have been something to do with our parents’ friends in Oregon (USA), where they had lived for 10 years. So, yes, I now believe that those friends must have paid the money for the parcels to be sent to us.

This story was first published in 2015.

Tell us your story about the kindness of a stranger

To mark CARE’s 75th year we want to share stories that celebrate the power of the kindness of strangers and inspire people to take action today. So if you have a story of how a stranger’s act of kindness, no matter how big or small, has left a mark on your life please get in touch. Email Hannah Richards:

CARE's picture

News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.