skip to main content

Lyman Gilmore

Middle School
placeholder for top bar

Donation Day

History of Donation Day

History of Donation Day

History of Donation Day


In 1883, while Caroline Mead Hanson watched the school children pass her window on the way to Lincoln School on South School St., she had an idea. 1883 had been a particularly harsh year for the Grass Valley miners. The Eureka Mine and several others had closed, and many miners were out of work. The Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society had been inundated with calls for help.

 She came up with this plan: on a day to be named by our City School Superintendent all of the public school teachers would be required to ask the children in their charge to bring to the schoolhouse, each one, one potato and one stick of stove wood. The potatoes to be put in a sack by the janitor. The wood to be piled in the yard. The donations to be brought into all the schools on the same day of the week. On the next day they would be removed by the Ladies Relief Society to any place they might judge to be in need. The donation from each child is so small, there is hardly a family who could not afford to give it, but as there are several hundred schoolchildren attending our schools the aggregate might be of some value. 

 Thus, the tradition of Donation Day was born. This tradition continued to grow. Soon merchants joined the school children adding hams, and sacks of flour and merchandise to the sticks of wood and potatoes. A butcher shop owner suggested making this a parade.

Here we are today, still marching (this year 2016 will mark the 133nd year of this tradition) and still helping local families. However, over the years, there have been changes. The sticks of wood and potatoes have grown to food boxes at Christmas time for those who need help.

Throughout the year, as in the past, we help those in need. Under the guidance of the school nurses, children’s dental care has become an important focus. We also handle requests for help from organizations. 

And this has been going on for 127 years.

 Please help us help others by bring in cans and other non-perishable food. Anything would be helpful!

 This years Donation Day is Friday, December 16 at 10:00 a.m. It begins at Grass Valley Charter School on So. Auburn St. The students march to Neal up to Mill St. continue to W. Main to So. Auburn back to Hennessy School. Come and watch these great youngsters at the Holidays.