Tag Archives: Silent Guest program

Halloween ushers in season of the silent guest

During the Halloween of 1947, plans were being made for the arrival of the “silent guest” into homes across America. It was not a horror movie, but just the opposite.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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For Thanksgiving Take in a ‘Silent Guest’

Marathon Champ Paul Tergat, a WFP School Meals Ambassador, distributing food in Kenya. (WFP/Francesco Broli)

Marathon Champ Paul Tergat, a WFP School Meals Ambassador, distributing food in Kenya. (WFP/Francesco Broli)

Thanksgiving is upon us. So too is the famous shopping day Black Friday. It’s also the anniversary of a great American initiative. This one started after World War II when Americans fed a “silent guest” at their holiday meals.

It was dreamed up by a former aspiring actress named Iris Gabriel. She gave up on Hollywood only to find her biggest role was in feeding the starving people in the war devastated countries in Europe.

At Thanksgiving on 1947 Americans were asked to imagine taking in one of the world’s hungry to their holiday celebration. They could mail the cost to feed that “silent guest” to a committee in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the home of Thanksgiving. A CARE package was then sent to a hungry person overseas.

The “silent guest” plan was endorsed by governors around the country including Robert Bradford of Massachusetts, a descendant of the Pilgrims.

As this Thanksgiving and Black Friday approaches, there are two huge emergencies ongoing in the Middle East and the Philippines. The war in Syria has left millions displaced and hungry. The colder temperatures are moving in too making relief even more difficult.

The super typhoon Haiyan has destroyed whole communities in the Philippines, leaving them without food, water or housing. The United Nations says 11.5 million people are affected by the Typhoon and 544,606 people are displaced. Food, clean water, medicine and shelter are desperately needed. Hunger, malnutrition and disease will escalate among the population unless aid arrives in time. The storm’s impact can last long past the event itself.

At this very moment Catholic Relief Services is helping provide emergency shelters. This is especially crucial with the risk of more rains coming.

So this holiday season help a ‘silent guest” by donating to a humanitarian agency like Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, World Food Programme, UNICEF and at your local food bank.

And you can also donate without opening your wallet by using the free hunger fighting app Charity Miles or playing the online game FreeRice.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday should be about sharing. For only by doing so can we have a world of peace, goodwill and hope.

This commentary originally appeared at the Orange County Register newspaper.

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Feed a “Silent Guest” from the Philippines

The UN World Food Programme and other aid groups are rushing aid to those displace by the typhoon. World Food Programme. (WFP/Praveen Agrawal)

The UN World Food Programme and other aid groups are rushing aid to those displace by the typhoon. (WFP/Praveen Agrawal)

Right now there are millions of people suffering from hunger in the Philippines after the super typhoon. There is no food, water or electricity in storm hit areas. Humanitarian agencies are rushing to get aid to the suffering.

What can you do to help? You can follow the great American tradition of feeding a “silent guest” at your next meal.

Set an extra plate or just use your imagination. Figure out how much it would cost to feed a “silent guest” at your next meal and send that amount to a charity. You could send it to Save the Children or Catholic Relief Services, two charities that were providing aid when the “Silent guest” program was first active after World War II.

You could donate to UNICEF or the World Food Programme, Or any charity of your choice.

There is another way you can feed a “silent guest” from the Philippines. This comes by way of a free app called Charity Miles and Lifeway Foods. You download the Charity Miles app, select World Food Programme as your charity. Then you just run, walk or bike and funds are raised for WFP, paid for out of a corporate sponsorship pool.

Lifeway Foods, in response to the Philippines disaster, is increasing its sponsorship of Charity Miles and offering an incentive. Whenever you use the app Lifeway will donate an additional 25 cents per mile (up to $20,000) to the World Food Programme.

Charity Miles is a free an easy way you can feed a “silent guest.” Just bring your smartphone and your heart.

The “silent guest” tradition got its start in 1947 when the fate of war-devastated Europe rested upon food for the hungry. A one-time aspiring actress, Iris Gabriel, proposed the plan to Governor Robert Bradford of Massachusetts. It took off around Thanksgiving time and it led to people buying “CARE packages” to feed the hungry in Europe.

Governors around the country mobilized their respective states. Today, we are seeing a similar development. Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia issued a statement today encouraging citizens to donate what they can.

You can help build the pipeline of food that WFP is going to need for some time. A shipment from the U.S. Food for Peace program just left Miami with high energy biscuits to be distributed by WFP. We also need to make sure the Congress increases Food for Peace funding in the upcoming Farm Bill legislation.

Let’s all take in a “silent guest” and help feed the storm victims in the Philippines.

originally published at the Huffington Post.

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The Christmas When New England Fed the World

In 1947 Americans fed a "silent guest" during the holidays and this led to a CARE package going overseas to feed the hungry.Credits: CARE

In 1947 Americans fed a “silent guest” during the holidays and this led to a CARE package going overseas to feed the hungry. Credits:CARE

New England is known for its seafood, the Boston Red Sox and Celtics. Less known is how one Christmas holiday New England took on the challenge of feeding the world.

The year was 1947, just two years after World War II, and nations in Europe and Asia were suffering food shortages. Americans were ready to help. When the holidays rolled around that year an announcement was made from Plymouth, Massachusetts asking families to feed a “silent guest” at their holiday meals.

By making a donation to the Silent Guest Committee, a CARE package would be sent to a hungry family in Europe. A newspaper headline saying “Feasts Provide for All” was the idea.

And the donations poured in. From Thanksgiving through Christmas people reached out to help those suffering overseas. CARE packages flooded Europe and other areas to feed the hungry. Food was life and hope for people trying to rebuild from the war ruins. Another headline read “New England Gives Cheer to the Needy.”

Hunger was fought at home too. In Boston, the Volunteers of America fed the homeless and the Salvation Army was very active.

As this Christmas arrives Americans can take in a “silent guest” at their holiday meal. Just taking some spare change they can purchase multiple meals. That’s right. If you were to find one dollar of change in a coat pocket, on a chair, or in a piggy bank you could feed a child for a week.

So this holiday think like Beantown and New England did in 1947 and feed a “silent guest.” Help change the world.

A few charities to send “Silent Guest” donations include:

World Food Programme

Catholic Relief Services



Save the Children

Feeding America

Church World Service


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Thanksgiving, the Friendship Train, The Silent Guest…and Free Rice

The Friendship Train in November of 1947 collecting food for the hungry in Europe (Ames Historical Society)

Happy Thanksgiving!

My oped This Thanksgiving feed a silent guest and help build world peace is published today in newspapers.

It features the famous Friendship Train that collected food for the hungry in Europe after World War II.

Here are some links to the article:

San Francisco Chronicle

Wichita Eagle

Cleveland Plain Dealer

History News Network

Buffalo News

There are nearly one billion hungry people worldwide. There is hunger in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and even hungry people even here in the United States. Please consider feeding a “silent guest” this Thanksgiving, one of the world’s hungry people. You can donate the cost to feed that “silent guest” to a charity fighting hunger. Here is a list of some hunger fighting agencies.

Even a donation of one dollar can buy close to a week’s worth of meals for a child.

Another way to help is to play the online game Free Rice. It’s free for you to play. The donations of rice are paid for by advertisers on the site. The more you play the more you can help end world hunger!

Have a great holiday!!

William Lambers

FreeRice has two goals: Provide education to everyone for free. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

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This Thanksgiving Feed A Silent Guest and Help End World Hunger

Here is a  list of charities where you can make a “silent guest” donation this Thanksgiving to Help Feed the Hungry. Imagine you have a guest at your table on Thanksgiving, one of the world’s hungry people. You can send the donation to pay for the Thanksgiving meal of your “silent guest.” Please see my article This Thanksgiving Feed A Silent Guest and Help Build World Peace. Also you can read more below about the “silent guest” program.

United Nations World Food Programme

Play Free Rice

Save the Children

Catholic Relief Services


World Vision


Feeding America

Aschiana Foundation

Action Against Hunger

Church World Service

Norwegian Refugee Council


Food for the Poor

article about the Silent Guest program in a 1947 Plymouth newspaper. (courtesy Plymouth Public Library)

The Friendship Train and the "Silent Guest" Program were two ways Americans sought to build peace after World War II (Cincinnati Post reprint courtesy of the Cincinnati Public Library)

In Thanksgiving 1947 Americans were asked to take a “silent guest” into their homes, one of the hungry in Europe. The World War II devastated countries had been hit hard by drought and harsh winters causing food shortages. The silent guest plan was one way Americans came to the aid of the hungry and suffering.

On Thanksgiving Day Americans would figure what it would cost to feed a “silent guest” at their meal and then mail the donation to a committee in Plymouth, MA – the home of Thanksgiving.  Donations poured in and led to the purchase of many thousands of CARE packages of food going to the hungry in Europe.

This Thanksgiving we can answer the cries of the hungry whether it’s in the famine zone of East Africa, or in drought-ravaged Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo  or Haiti. This holiday there may be those in your own city and state who are hungry.

You can take in a “silent guest” and make a donation to feed your guest at a number of charities.  Also included is a link to the online game Free Rice, where for every correct answer you get, 10 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme, paid for by advertisers, a modern way of taking in a “silent guest.”

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