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On the Home Front: Children and the War Effort


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



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Children, many of them too young to understand the impact of their actions, participated in a number of activities during the war years. Boys and girls sponsored the collection of paper, and Boy Scout troops often asked household residents to box or bundle their paper and leave it on their curb or porch for pickup. Classes in the local schools routinely collected money that would go towards the purchase of war bonds. Some children, like the ones pictured below, collected ripened milkweed pods from nearby fields that would be used for padding in certain military items.

 Stars and Stripes








Milkweed and pod 


Newspapers ran this advertisement encouraging children to “clean their plate.”  Children in the United States should eat every bit of food on their plate and were continuously reminded that the starving children in Europe would gladly do so. 


Our Uncle Sam

Charleston Daily Courier, January 1944


What sort of activities, as a child, would you be willing to participate in during the war years to assist the soldiers overseas? Would you be able to finish all of the food on your plates, even if it meant that you would have to eat those brussel sprouts your mother made for dinner? Can you think of any activities that you could do today that would help your friends or family in a worldwide war?