Charity Cards Offer Triple Bang for Buck

Article excerpt

Sending greeting cards from charitable organizations offers a holiday sentiment times three:

The cards benefit the buyer, the seller and the recipient.

For Jan Hager of Baldwin, wife of the late Pittsburgh artist Jess Hager, Christmas cards featuring images of her husband's paintings bring happy memories of their years together. Jess Hager was a former art director for U.S. Steel Corp. in Pittsburgh, and was well- known for his watercolors of Pittsburgh and its once-booming steel industry.

He's been gone five years now, but his spirit lives on in the cards that benefit the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania.

"I promised him that I'd do whatever I can to keep his paintings out there as long as I can," says Jan.

This year's featured card, "Winter Skyline -- Pittsburgh," spotlights the US Steel Tower and Gulf Building. Other greeting and note cards from the Jess Hager collection are available through the Lupus Foundation website.

Another local artist, Linda Barnicott of Monroeville, is in her 15th year of providing her paintings of Pittsburgh for the American Cancer Society's Greater Pittsburgh Unit annual holiday cards. This year's image, titled "A Holiday Tradition," pays tribute to the Horne's tree, Downtown. At the Washington County Unit of the ACS, artist James Sulkowski's card -- titled "A Winter's Evening" -- depicts an octagonal barn in Washington County.

Also observing her 15th year creating cards is Penn Hills watercolor artist Mary Lois Verrilla, whose card for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society focuses on "The Point." It includes a snowman decked out in black-and-gold gear while holding a pennant.

Among the most anticipated holiday cards are those created by children affiliated with Make-a-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia. Young artists whose designs were chosen for this year's cards include Alivia, 15, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County; Danielle, 13, of Richwood, W.Va.; Jaren, 9, of Turbotville, Northumberland County, who has two of his drawings featured; and Marissa Morrison, 15, of Chippewa Township, Beaver County.

Marissa, a 10th-grade student at Blackhawk High School, says she was surprised when her drawing of a penguin popping out of a gift box was selected by Make-A-Wish judges.

"I was thinking of Christmas-y things and snow outside and I thought the penguin idea was cute," she says. "I really liked the picture when I was done with it." Marissa was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and is now in remission. She recently finished two months of intensive treatments, according to her mother, Faith, who says her family will be sending her daughter's card to everyone on their Christmas card list.

"We have a lot of relatives who are anxious to see it," she says.

Neil Gearhart, spokesman for the East Central Division of ACS, says that like other charity-card sales, donations received from the Greater Pittsburgh chapter sale help the society's numerous patient services and programs. "These donations are making a significant impact on the community, the patients and the caregivers who are utilizing these resources," he says.

Cards for a cause

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 the Horne's Christmas tree, titled "A Holiday Tradition," 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. …