Why Red Wagon?
More than a century ago, Mary Virginia Merrick’s gift of a red wagon began a tradition that continues today. The year was 1884 - the Christmas season. America was experiencing unprecedented economic growth; it was the “gilded age.” Mary Virginia Merrick was partially paralyzed after a fall. Fortunately her family could afford to hire Paul, a personal errand boy, for their daughter. Nothing was gilded about young Paul’s life. With an unemployed father, and a mother working as the Merrick’s laundress, there was little money for necessities. Christmas presents were out of the question. Paul told Mary Virginia that he wanted a red wagon – a wagon he could use to “...carry home [his] Mother’s wash.” An impossible dream, one might think. Mary’s solution was simple:
Paul wrote the letter, and Mary Virginia and her friends helped the “Christ Child” fulfill his wish. The story continues that the first person to get a ride in Paul’s wagon was the life size baby Jesus from his church’s Christmas Nativity scene.
Mary Virginia Merrick’s philanthropy did not end there. In 1887, Mary learned of a family in extreme poverty who was expecting a baby due to arrive at Christmas. Mary persuaded her sisters and friends to assemble a layette for this Christmas baby. It was delivered to a deeply grateful mother in time for her joyous event. Mary’s acts of kindness continued, and the “Society of the Christ Child” was born. The red wagon became a symbol for Mary Virginia Merrick’s lifelong service to impoverished children. Since its inception, the guiding principle of the Society has been to give the gift of personal service “for love of the Christ Child to the least of His little ones.”
Christ Child Society of Columbus hosts an annual Red Wagon fund raising event in honor of the example of Mary Virginia Merrick who often said,
We are humbled and thankful that our friends and benefactors share with us the desire to serve children in Central Ohio through helping to fund our many projects.