I've spent far too much time this morning trying to figure out where this group of apparent Red Cross volunteers fits into the World War I effort in Chariton --- and failed.
The photograph is battered (it's been pasted into a scrapbook at some point, then removed) and a source is not noted in the catalog.
I'm fairly sure it was taken during 1917 and the building in the background may be Chariton's First United Methodist Church. "For Mercy's Sake" was a phrase used by the Red Cross during fund-raising and recruiting efforts at the time.
All of the young women were in high school at the time, a majority in Chariton (but Dorothy Joy was a student at St. Joseph's Academy, Ottumwa).
If not school-affiliated, the best bet would be the P.A. Club, a young women's social club sponsored by the Methodist Sunday school and given to raising funds for worthy causes.
At least we know the names of group members, thoughtfully written on the back. They are (first row from left) Dorothy Penick, Stella Lutz, Esther Beem, Muriel Drake, Louise Junkin, Beth Drake, Louise Stanton and Margaret Stanton; (second row) Alice Custer, Evelyn Shields, Anna Laura Copeland, Margery Vail, Edith Abrams and Zora Stewart; and (back row) Virginia Custer, Marjorie Drake, Genevieve Harding, Dorothy Joy, Martha Stewart, Elizabeth Stanton, Katherine Copeland, Marjorie Johnston, Louise Johnston, Gladys Abrams and Harriet Goodsell.