Interest in support for the Shriners Hospitals for Children was apparent in Kerbela Temple from the time of their formal establishment in 1920 at the Imperial Council Sessions in Portland Oregon. Kerbela had just received it’s charter five years previously.
In those early years fundraising for the hospitals took several forms including the “Ladder of Smiles” which was very popular in Kerbela for several years. Subsequently another idea was born in the heart and mind of Noble Harry Olsen who had transferred his membership from Al Menah Temple in Nashville where he had participated in a paper sale in that city (sponsored by the Junior League of Nashville and assisted by the Nobles of Al Menah). According to an article in the Kerbela Knews in March, 1946, their project that year produced $88,000 in funds for the Junior League Women’s Hospital for Crippled Children in Nashville.
According to Noble Olsen, the idea of an All-Shrine Paper Sale was tossed around in his mind for a time and was finally presented to Dr. L. I. Reed. When Dr. Reed became Potentate of Kerbela Temple in 1950 this idea bore fruit, and Noble Harry Olsen was designated by Potentate Reed to proceed with arrangements for the first Shrine Paper Sale in Upper East Tennessee. His official title was Chairman of the Paper Sales Committee for Crippled Children’s Benefit.
It became a reality on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 1950 when the Nobles of Kerbela Temple began what was then called the East Tennessee Crippled Children’s Hospital Paper Sale. The sale was advertised as benefiting the Knoxville Crippled Children Hospital as well as the Shrine Hospital Units in Greenville, South Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky, after express permission was granted by Galloway Calhoun then Chairman of the imperial Shrine Hospital Board.
Noble Olsen began the project by mailing a letter announcing the sale and explaining it’s purpose (along with a blank check to be used for their donation) to approximately 2,400 Nobles in East Tennessee. He also worked with a committee of selected Nobles to head up teams to do advance solicitation of industry, retail and wholesale businesses, professional men — in fact every type of business was covered and asked to contribute to this worthy cause.
The original intention was to call on every home in Knoxville as well as every home in the jurisdiction of the Kerbela Temple by asking them to purchase a paper. Members of the Patrol, Wrecking Crew, and Oriental Band acted as Captains with other Nobles under their supervision performing this tremendous task. Door to door sales started at 8:00 am and finished at 9:30 pm since most people would have gone to church by that hour. In addition Nobles were assigned on every street corner in their section to sell papers to all motorists, each Noble wearing his Fez and official badge for identification.
The papers sold were in tabloid form with as many stories and pictures of the hospitals and children as space permitted as well as a history of Kerbela and the work it had done for crippled children.