Artist inspired to design alternative Christmas cards

11/20/2007

By Carol A. Breitinger

Special to the Advocate

 

BIG ISLAND, Va.— Christmas in July? That is when it starts for the Society of St. Andrew every year, for that’s when they commence work on their annual Christmas Card Gift Donation program.

 

Once the staff composes the poem or inspirational message for that year’s alternative Christmas card, Virginia artist Annis McCabe begins the process to create the art for the card. The exclusive designs she has created for the past 13 years have been McCabe’s annual artistic donation to the Society of St. Andrew, a national hunger-relief ministry founded and headquartered in Virginia.

 

The Society of St. Andrew (SoSA) tackles hunger in America through its grassroots gleaning network, potato and produce project and Harvest of Hope programs. SoSA is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit suppliers of fresh produce to the hungry and is an Advance Special for Christ and His Church (No. 801600).

 

“I’ve known the folks that founded the Society of St. Andrew since they first came to Bedford County (Va.) some 30 years ago to serve in the pulpit ministry of a local, United Methodist four-church charge,” said McCabe.

 

“Because I knew them to be folks who were ‘walking the talk’, I wanted to help them in any way they needed,” McCabe explained. “When Ken (Horne) and Ray (Buchanan) asked me to design their first Christmas card in the early ‘90s, I was more than happy to do it.”

 

McCabe, a resident of Bedford, is an artist working in a variety of media. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary (now the Virginia Commonwealth University), did post-graduate work at Arrowmont School of Crafts in Tennessee, the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and Hollins College in Virginia. She gained prominence throughout central Virginia teaching in the art departments of Lynchburg College and Randolph-Macon Women’s College (now Randolph College), as well as the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, the Sedalia Center in Bedford County and her own Blue Feather Studio. In recent years McCabe has been recognized as a liturgical artist.

 

 “(One) thing that appeals to me about my task is that it becomes an ‘alternative’ Christmas gift,” said McCabe. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to acknowledge SoSA’s work and feed the hungry in honor of friends and family.”

 

McCabe, a member of Main Street UMC in Bedford, explained how she comes up with designs each Christmas. “SoSA tells me what the written message will be, and I take it from there. I ask prayerfully for guidance, and often it’s a good while before a breakthrough occurs. When I’m working on a card it may take three or four serious design attempts before the final one emerges. It’s like participating in a small mystery with an ‘aha!’ at the end. I do it all the time.

 

Since it was introduced in 1993, the Society of St. Andrew’s annual Christmas Card Gift Donation program has generated over half a million dollars in donations that have been used to provide food to the hungry. To date, the direct result of these specific gift donations has been 29 million servings produce saved from going to waste and given to service agencies around the nation to feed hungry Americans.

 

“I find it amazing when I think about how many people SoSA has been able to feed just from this program,” declared McCabe. “And I feel quite blessed to have a hand in that.”

 

 “SoSA tells me what the written message will be, and I take it from there. I ask prayerfully for guidance, and often it’s a good while before a breakthrough occurs. When I’m working on a card it may take three or four serious design attempts before the final one emerges. It’s like participating in a small mystery with an ‘aha!’ at the end. I do it all the time.

 

Since it was introduced in 1993, the Society of St. Andrew’s annual Christmas Card Gift Donation program has generated over half a million dollars in donations that have been used to provide food to the hungry. To date, the direct result of these specific gift donations has been twenty-nine million servings of fresh, nutritious produce saved from going to waste and given to service agencies around the nation to feed hungry Americans.

 

“I find it amazing when I think about how many people SoSA has been able to feed just from this program alone!,” declared McCabe. “And I feel quite blessed to have a hand in that.”