Pittsburgh Nonprofits Draw on Local Scenes for Holiday Cards

Article excerpt

Even in this era of e-mails and tweets, there's something special about sending and receiving an old-fashioned holiday card.

Many area nonprofit organizations rely on sales of custom- designed cards this time of year to boost profits and achieve their fundraising goals. For the artists who create the images of familiar people and places depicted on them, the cards often hold a special place in their hearts.

That's certainly the case for Penn Hills artist Mary Lois Verrilla, whose 2011 holiday card for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a return after a decade to one of her favorite places to paint -- Schenley Park ice skating rink.

"In 2001, my skaters card was so popular, it sold out," Verrilla says. "Jeanne (Caliguiri, director of development at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,) asked me to do it again."

Last spring, Verrilla and her husband, Ed, went to Schenley Park to photograph the site so she could paint it from a different vantage point. In 2001, the trees had skimmed the skyline, but in 10 years, the tree tops blocked the view. Verrilla left the original skyline in her new painting, trimming the trees with her paintbrush.

Her husband passed away in July, and she made sure that she included his likeness in the ice-rink scene.

"He's the one in the Steelers jacket to the right of the rink," she says. "I always put my friends and family in my paintings. We were together for 55 years."

One of the youngest charity greeting card artists this year is 11- year-old Reeve Mulhollen of Ellwood City, one of four area young people whose designs were selected by Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. Reeve and her family received a trip to Walt Disney World, as did the other winners, Alivia, 14, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County.; Josiah, 14, of Morgantown, Berks Cuonty., Christine, 11 of Ridgway, Elk County.

Reeve says her mother, Kathleen, encouraged her to enter the card- decorating contest. Her design depicts a playful penguin sporting a red tassel cap. She hasn't yet shared the news with her friends.

"I didn't tell anybody yet. It's still a surprise," she says.

Here is ordering information for holiday cards and seasonal gift items from participating nonprofit organizations:

American Cancer Society: Pittsburgh artist Linda Barnicott's painting of Market Square, titled "The Golden Glow of Pittsburgh's Light-Up Night" is featured on this year's holiday card. It is available in boxes of 25 cards for a donation of $24 per box for one to three boxes, $22 for four to nine boxes, and $20 for 10 or more boxes. Imprinting is available for an extra charge. A limited number of previous years' cards and a vintage assortment are available for $18 per box for one to three boxes, $15 for four to nine boxes, and $12 for 10 or more boxes. Washington County artist James Sulkowski focuses on the Miller Homestead during the mid-19th century in his design, "Home for the Holidays -- Meadowcroft Village" for the Washington County Unit, for a donation of $25 for a box of 25, or $20 each for three boxes or more. Imprinting is available, and a limited number of previous cards and prints are available at a discounted cost. Details: 888-227-5445.

American Diabetes Association: A wide variety of greeting cards, calendars, cookbooks, ornaments and gift items are available from the association's online catalog. …