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Holiday greetings can help others

| Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, 7:20 p.m.
Operation Santa Claus cards were painted from the hand-drawn designs of Susan Castriotta.
Little Sisters of the Poor
Little Sisters of the Poor
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Mary Lois Verrilla painted a snowman dressed in Pittsburg black and gold attire on a snowy day in North Side’s West Park for the Pittsburgh for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Linda Barnicott provided the painting for the American Cancer Society's holiday card.
The Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania offers Jess Hager's 'Memories -- Market Square' for its card.
'Santa With a Cancer Cure' came from Joseph, 7, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, for Make-A-Wish..
'Christmas Penguin' was created by Kayla, 13, of Drums, Luzerne County, for Make-A-Wish.
'Holiday Puppies and Kittens' was created by Danielle, 13, of Richwood, W. Va., for Make-A-Wish.
'Snowman Christmas Cookies' was created by Alivia, 15, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, for Make-A-Wish.

A line from a favorite Christmas song — “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style” — describes the scenes captured by two local artists for this year's holiday cards for charitable organizations.

Both Linda Barnicott of Monroe-ville and Janet Hager of Baldwin chose snowy watercolor paintings of Market Square for their contributions to the Allegheny County Unit of the American Cancer Society and the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania, respectively.

Janet Hager still participates in the Lupus charity six years after the passing of her husband, Jess Hager, a well-known artist and former head of the art department at U.S. Steel Corp. in Pittsburgh. She chose the print of his “Memories — Market Square” painting because it brings back memories of being Downtown with him in 1985 when he took photos of the location he wanted to capture on canvas.

“I look at the beauty of his paintings and still feel him all around me,” she says.

Barnicott's “Sharing the Season at Market Square,” which she painted in 1991, has special meaning to her, too. The little girl feeding pigeons in the painting is her daughter, Brittany, who was 5 years old at the time, and the man wearing a blue jacket is her husband, Tom.

The changing landscape of Market Square today is evident in the lineup of shops and restaurants in her painting that includes Jenny Lee Bakery, which closed in 2008. She enjoys sharing her artistic talent to give joy to others, she says.

“What I do has always been a gift to me. It's a wonderful way to give back,” Barnicott says.

Another Pittsburgh-focused winter scene, showing skaters in North Side's West Park, is depicted in watercolor artist Mary Lois Verrilla's card for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Over the years, she has created 16 different images for the charity. Cheering on the skaters is a snowman wearing Steelers gear and holding a black-and-gold pennant.

Available for sale from the Washington County Unit of the American Cancer Society are cards from artist James M. Sulkowski's painting depicting a 19th-century octagonal barn. The barn was an historic landmark near Washington until it was disassembled a decade ago and moved to a private home in Ligonier.

Young artists created their usual adorable designs for Make-a-Wish Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Proceeds from sales of these cards help the organization make wishes come true for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

How to get them

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, Downtown, titled “Sharing the Season at Market Square,” 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. Washington County artist James Sulkowski focuses on an octagonal barn for his card, “A Winter's Evening,” 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: 8 88-227-5445 or 412-919-1100 or

American Diabetes Association: A wide variety of greeting cards, calendars, cookbooks, ornaments and gift items are available from the association's online catalog. Card prices vary per box. Details: 800-232-6455 or

Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association: Assorted note cards feature artwork by individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Also for sale are personalized calendars and other gift items. Details: 800-435-8284 or

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia Chapter: The 2013 card by watercolor artist Mary Lois Verrilla features a winter scene of skaters at North Side's West Park. Holiday cards from previous y ears are available in limited quantities. Boxes of 20 sell for $20. Cards can be ordered by phone or mail: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, River Walk Corporate Centre, 333 E. Carson St., Suite 441, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Mail orders will include a $5 charge for delivery. Details: 800-726-2873

Little Sisters of the Poor: This year's card designed by Sister Martha Lieb features a pencil sketch of the Blessed Mother with baby Jesus and the sentiment: “For unto us a Child is Born … the Prince of Peace.” Proceeds from the sale of the cards benefit the care of the elderly poor. The cost is $10 for seven cards, $15 for 12 cards and $25 for 30 cards, plus the cost of postage for mail orders. Cards also are sold in the Little Sisters of the Poor Gift Shop, 1028 Benton Ave., Brighton Heights. Details: 412-307-1100 or

Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania: Watercolor paintings designed by the late Pittsburgh artist Jess Hager are the inspiration for a series of cards depicting Pittsburgh scenes, including a new card for 2013, titled “Memories — Market Square.” A card assortment featuring different designs also is available. The cards cost $15 for a box of 20, plus $5 shipping. Personalized imprinting is available. Details: 412-261-5886 or

Operation Santa Claus: Trib Total Media is selling cards painted from the hand-drawn designs of Pittsburgh artist Susan Castriotta. Proceeds provide complete holiday meals to less fortunate families in the area. A box of 12 cards costs $10, plus tax, shipping & handling. Details: 412-320-7844 or

Make-a-Wish Foundation: Cards with four designs created by area children are $15, plus shipping and handling, for a package of 15. Proceeds from these cards will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Each package contains 15 full-color cards of the same design with envelopes. Cards can be mailed or picked up at the Make-a-Wish office, Gulf Tower, 37th floor, Downtown. Details: 412-471-9474 or

Candy Williams is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

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