As a couple of my co-workers and I were discussing Easter memories, the conversation turned to Easter Seals. The charitable organization produced stamps each spring to raise money for its programs nationally.
Our parents used the stamps to seal envelops containing their snail mail correspondences.
Although the colorful seals were prevalent in my youth, I haven't seen any in quite some time. Obviously I must not be on the mailing list.
Plus, the seals were used more for personal correspondence, and I just don't receive much of that any more.
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My co-workers couldn't recall the last time they saw Easter Seals, either.
I wondered if Easter Seals still exists and started doing a little snooping.
Seems Easter Seals, originally known as the National Society for Crippled Children, is alive and doing quite well, thank you.
The Cardinal Hill Healthcare System — which includes facilities in Northern Kentucky and Louisville as well as Lexington — is owned by the Kentucky Easter Seals Society, an affiliate of the National Easter Seals Society.
Easter Seals is a part of the Louisville facility's name and is given a prominent position in the history of Cardinal Hill of Northern Kentucky.
But Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington has always been known as Cardinal Hill, said Jenny Wurzback, director of community relations and the Cardinal Hill Foundation.
"From the beginning, they saw the need to give the hospital its own identity with its own name," she said.
There is also another affiliate in Kentucky, Easter Seals of Western Kentucky based in Paducah, which serves disabled and special needs children and adults in 19 counties and some areas in southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri.
All this is in keeping with the vision of the society's founder, Edgar Allen. Allen's 18-year-old son was killed in a streetcar accident in Elyria, Ohio, in 1907. At the time, a physician told Allen his son could have been saved had there been better emergency medical resources available.
He sold his businesses and led efforts to raise enough money to build a hospital, which opened in 1908. He soon realized there was a tremendous need for a facility to treat crippled children. He turned his attentions to that endeavor. Gates Hospital for Crippled Children opened in 1915, the first facility of its kind in the nation.
He persuaded the Rotary Clubs of Ohio to establish the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, which led, four years later, to the formation of the National Society for Crippled Children, later renamed Easter Seals. That group, with Allen as president, succeeded in getting A Bill of Rights for the Handicapped Child adopted nationally, which stated children with disabilities have a right to a full life.
In 1933, at the society's national convention, Paul King, Allen's successor, suggested selling seals as a means of raising funds for the growing effort.
Eight states began selling the seals in 1934, beginning in the spring and with an Easter theme.
"Easter means, of course, resurrection and new life," King said, "and certainly the rehabilitation of crippled children means new life and activity, complete or partial, physically, mentally and spiritually."
The first stamp was designed by Cleveland Plain Dealer cartoonist J.H. Donahey, and it depicted a little girl on crutches.
The campaign was a big success. In 1952, the lily became the official logo of the society. Now, Easter Seals holds an art contest each year to select just the right lily art for six stamps that are distributed to 19 million households.
I'm obviously not one of the recipients. So, to answer our questions and maybe yours: yes, the society still exists, and yes, it still provides the services it was established to do with disabled and special needs children, adults and their families. Those services include intervention for adults and children with autism, medical rehabilitation, adult and senior services, and camping and recreation activities for the disabled.
Sara Brewster of the national Easter Seals said each affiliate is invited to share in a number of educational resources, information and trends gained from other participants.
"Our affiliates are doing a lot of services," Brewster said. "We are the largest supplier of adult day services, for example. We try to keep people in their communities for as long as they can stay."
That's why we think of Easter Seals this time of year.
The organization started from a desire to bring a renewed life to children and families who dared not wish for it. That's what springtime does for us.
Easter Seals also was set up to be associated with the redemption promised by Jesus Christ. That's what Easter is all about.
But, Brewster said, Easter Seals is non-denominational now, open to all who have a need that should be met.
"It's about springtime and regeneration," Brewster said. "A chance for children to grow again."
I'm just glad that the organization devoted to giving healing and hope to a neglected population hasn't faded away. If you, like me, need to have another reminder in the cold of winter that spring is on its way, visit Easter Seals at Easterseals.com, and sign up to receive those stamps again.