On December 10, 1832, perhaps inspired by the approach of Christmas, a “few ladies of Salem” established the Samaritan Charitable Society of Salem to provide occasional help to keep “desolation from the homes” of those less fortunate.
The glory days of Salem’s maritime trade had passed. Cotton mills, leather factories, the coal trade and waves of immigrants were beginning to characterize the city. The number of those living in poverty was rising. Not surprisingly, the new charitable society received many requests for assistance over the years that followed.
Incorporated in 1881, the Samaritans established a tradition—still followed today—of focusing on specific, one-time assistance to help an individual or family overcome temporary financial difficulties. Thousands of requests have been honored over the past 180+ years. The needs have changed, but there remains no shortage of good people trying to make ends meet as they face job loss, illness, or other adversities.
The Samaritan Charitable Society of Salem has an illustrious if little-known history. Today, we strive to broaden our reach, form new partnerships, help more people and live up to a noteworthy legacy.