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UNICEF History

UNICEF's first greeting card

In 1949, a seven-year old Czech girl, Jitka Samkova, painted a "Thank You" picture for UNICEF help given to her village.

The first UNICEF greeting card was created in 1949 and is shown here. The card launched a worldwide fund raising activity for UNICEF that continues to this day, with the total number of cards printed in the hundreds of millions.

From 'The Children and the Nations' by Maggie Black (©UNICEF, 1986), p. 68:
"The story of how the greeting cards began is part of Unicef folklore. The first design was a picture of a maypole painted on glass by a seven-year-old Czechoslovakian girl. Dzitka and her classmates were regular drinkers of Unicef milk, and the paintings they produced were a 'thank-you', sent off to Unicef's bureau in Prague by their teacher. From there, the glass picture of children dancing round the maypole went to Vienna, where one of [UNICEF Executive Director Maurice] Pate's bright young women — Grace Holmes Barbey, sent out on an information gathering mission — wrapped it up and took it back to New York. In October 1949, small numbers of a card using Dzitka's design were produced as a modest fund-raiser."

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