More than a century ago, We Raise Foundation began serving communities as the Evangelical Lutheran Sanitarium in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Its mission was to minister to people suffering from tuberculosis. In addition to operating the sanitarium, it initiated training programs for institutional chaplains and social workers, provided devotional literature, and funded pilot projects for Lutheran social service agencies.
In 1961, because of new outpatient treatment options for TB patients, the Colorado property was sold to a local Lutheran hospital association. The proceeds from the sale were used to create an endowment, and the organization was named Wheat Ridge Foundation and moves its offices to Chicago.
In 1991 the name of the organization was changed from Wheat Ridge Foundation to Wheat Ridge Ministries, but its mission stayed the same –to award grants to new Christian nonprofit organizations and emerging leaders working to build better communities.
Today, We Raise Foundation’s mission, values, and how we operate –the organizations we fund, our motivation, and the difference makers in how we go about our work –is the best of our past.
Learn more about our history through this historical timeline:
Christmas Seals have been a source of holiday inspiration for over 100 years! The Evangelical Lutheran Sanatorium in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, was instituted in 1905 by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod for Lutherans who had contracted tuberculosis, then known as “the white plague.” In 1910, the Sanatorium decided to offer a special Christmas Seal to Lutheran congregations as a fund-raising campaign. The Walther League, a youth organization sponsored by The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, was influential in establishing and supporting the Wheat Ridge Sanatorium. The Walther League agreed to distribute the seals to its members’ individual churches in 1911, and it was reported that the youth could have easily sold twice as many seals as they had been given, because the demand was so great.
The success of the first campaign encouraged the Sanatorium Association to continue distributing seals every Christmas, and each year the funds raised continued to increase. In 1927, the International Walther League assumed ownership and control of the Lutheran Sanatorium and the revenues from Christmas Seals continued to be an important part of the Sanatorium’s growth and work.
Since the closing of the sanatorium in 1961, the support provided by generous donors to this campaign helped to fund the granting work of Wheat Ridge Ministries and now, We Raise Foundation.