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St. Louis Area Caroling for a Cause
History and Trivia From St. Louis Public Records
by the Archives Staff, St. Louis City Recorder & Registrar Office (12-06-2011)
Contact: 314.589.8174 or e-mail


What do Christmas carols, transportation of children, leadership training, prevention of sickness, and juvenile court work have in common? They were some of the original purposes of the caroling group founded by a St. Louis captain of industry.

In 2011, the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association celebrates its 100th anniversary. Since that first Christmas in 1911 when William H. Danforth, founder of Ralston Purina (now Nestlé Purina) and the Danforth Foundation, gathered family and friends to sing holiday songs, the organization has evolved into a charitable organization with a distinguished history of raising funds for worthy causes.

Articles of Agreement were entered into by President William H. Danforth, Vice President June Elliott O'Reilly, Secretary Walter J. Stradal, and Treasurer Fred L. Denby on September 30, 1932.

The Association filed the Articles the St. Louis City Circuit Court on October 11, 1932. The Circuit Court granted the group a pro forma decree as a Benevolent Association on November 22, 1932. The Association recorded its Articles of Agreement with the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds on November 19, 1932.

"This association is formed for the purpose of organizing Christmas Carol groups, singing the Christmas Carols in St. Louis, and vicinity and distributing and donating the contributions collected by the Carolers to organizations, societies and groups doing child welfare and other benevolent work in the city of St. Louis and vicinity and more particularly for the following purposes:-

(a) For the education, housing, feeding, clothing, musical instruction, character building, leadership training, guidance and transportation of children.

(b) For nursing, prevention of sickness, care of sick, infirm, crippled and blind both the youth and adult.

(c) For social service, hospital service, finding employment, family welfare work, relief work for the needy, juvenile court work, orphanage asylums and day nurseries."

St. Louis Globe-Democrat reporter Robert Suits described the association's 1947 activities-

"The 40,000 carolers, who disregard such things as creed and color barriers, cover nearly every block in the city on Christmas eve."

"Collections, which have totaled more than a quarter of a million dollars since 1924, go to approximately 35 charity groups."

"The money provides for new crutches, milk for undernourished children, dental work, eye glasses, braces and summer camps."

In 1970, a group of Jefferson County residents formed the Jefferson County Christmas Carols Association:

"To organize, establish, promote, own, and maintain an organization for the encouragement of Christmas Carol Singing for the purpose of the raising and distribution of funds received there from for charitable causes, and

"To aid in any way physically and mentally handicapped children regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin…"

The group was administratively dissolved in 1981 for failure to file annual reports.

The Missouri Secretary of State's Business Entity Database shows no other "Christmas Carols" organizations have ever registered with that office.