MAY 27, 1954
NEW YORK, Wednesday—Rep. Charles R. Howell (D) of New Jersey tells me that on June 8th, hearings will begin on his bill providing for grants to the states for the development of fine-arts programs. For administrative purposes the program would be placed in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and contemplates enlarging the powers of the Secretary of that department and of the Office of Education.
Mr. Howell's bill is a measure for federal aid to education, as the fine arts are considered to be basic to general education. It would establish a national arts commission to develop measures for education in all the arts and to create cultural activities.
There has come to me a very moving letter from a woman who has devoted her time to helping the blind. She begs me to remind people that the Dawn Society sponsored by the Grand Lodge of California of the International Order of Good Templars was founded four years before the New York group.
Both these groups and others throughout the country are eye banks, and they urge people to will their eyes for the use of the blind. The corneas can be transplanted and give sight to many who are either completely blind or whose sight is impaired. My correspondent feels that if people knew they could help others in this way, there would be a far greater response than there is at the present time.
I seem to be skipping from one subject to another today but it is because many different things have been brought to my attention in the last few days. A very charming woman, Mrs. Elizabeth Heller, came to my office at the American Association for the U.N. and talked to me about the work she has been doing with children on a "Share Your Birthday" plan.
She explained it is not necessary actually to work with the U.N. in order to support its objectives, and she feels that her plan of getting schoolchildren in and around Philadelphia, where she lives, to share their birthday toys with other children throughout the world is one of the ways this can be done. She even took one child with a shipment of toys to Compiegne, France, and they had a most heartening experience.
Toys have gone to many other places. And answers have come from children in far distant countries to the little notes which were always enclosed by the American children who gave the toys. This established a continuing relationship. It is a plan that could be spread throughout the United States.