The article analyzes the involvement of children in social work during World War I. The problem is studied on the materials of Krasnoyarsk (Yenisei province). The concept of the “total war” was used as a tool for analysis. Based on archival documents and pre-revolutionary periodical press materials used for the first time, the author reveals the reasons why associations started to work with children and to cooperate with educational institutions of the city. The author pays attention to the activities of ladies’ committees as the main channel for engaging children in social work. Students of primary and secondary educational institutions of the city participated in charity performances and concerts, sewed linen and warm clothes, made gifts for soldiers, and donated money. Teachers regarded this as a part of the education of patriotism. Charity organizations and the press actively propagated and replicated the image of a child who made a feasible contribution to solving social problems of wartime, as one of the ways to consolidate and mobilize Russian society. However, citizens’ attitude to the practice was ambiguous. On the one hand, they financially supported charitable actions with participation of children. On the other hand, they often saw children as puppets used by associations to manipulate parents in order to increase the amount of donations.
Key words: World War I, history of charity, history of childhood, Krasnoyarsk, ladies' committee, mobilization of the population, Yenisei province.