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Little’s ‘Angels Among Us’ chosen as 2017 Christmas Honor Card

Christmas Honor Cards through the years

1. 1993, Clyde, “Kerr Mill at Sloan Park”

2. 1994, Betty Sedberry, “Barber Junction Depot”

3. 1995, Carlton Jackson, “Home for Christmas”

4. 1996, Lou Murphy, “All Are Invited”

5. 1997, Bob Timberlake, “The Alexander Long House”

6. 1998, Curtis Waller, “Grandkids’ Gifts”

7. 1999, Bob Doares, “The Nativity”

8. 2000, Cara J. Reische, “To All a Good Night”

9. 2001, Mark Brincefield, “Winter Light”

10. 2002, Phyllis Steimel, “Christmas Comes to the Eagle’s Nest”

11. 2003, Murphy Beard, “Helping Hands at Christmas”

12. 2004, Kaneko McNeill, “Christmas Sunrise’

13. 2005, Sybil Efird, “Our Helping Angel”

14. 2006, Nancy L. Rogers, “Sharing the Warmth”

15. 2007, Bob Doares, “Jesus Approaches the Jordan”

16. 2008, Michael Kirksey, “The Gift”

17. 2009, Carol Dunkley, ‘Snow Bird”

18. 2010, Marietta Foster Smith, “Safe and Warm”

19. 2011, Cara J. Reische, “Hope & Faith”

20. 2012, Barbara Harris Richmond, “Peace Throughout the World”

21. 2013, Caroline Dobson Marshall, “Hands, Heads and Hearts”

22. 2014, Connie Loflin Peninger, “Love Came Down at Christmas”

23. 2015, Carole Simmons, “1 John 3:17”

24. 2016, Rebecca Little, “Christmas on the Square”

25. 2017, Rebecca Little, “Angels Among Us”

SALISBURY — In her own modest way, Rebecca T. Little made history this year by having her artwork selected for Rowan Helping Ministries’ Christmas Honor Card.

This year’s Honor Card is the 25th since the Christmas card fundraiser was started for RHM. Little is the first artist to have her work chosen in consecutive years.

“I was completely astounded,” says Little, who works full time at Pyrotek. “… If my little hobby can do some good, then it’s a good thing.”

Her “Angels Among Us” card is now on sale at several locations in Salisbury and throughout Rowan County. Little’s “Christmas on the Square” was the Honor Card in 2016.

Little revealed at a reception Thursday evening at the Railwalk Art Gallery that she almost sabotaged “Angels Among Us” while trying to have her oil-on-canvas painting prepared for the printer.

The painting included some metal flakes to give it what Little says was an “Escheresque” quality, referring to artist M.C. Escher. But the printing company was concerned about the effect those metal flakes could have on its equipment, so Little decided to put a matte clear-coat finish on her painting to control the flakes.

That was a mistake. The matte finish “completely washed it out,” Little said.

Late on a Saturday night, Little hurried off to Walmart to find a gloss clear-coat. The next morning, she sprayed her painting with the gloss finish and refused to inspect it for the rest of the day while it dried.

By that evening, the brilliance of her original painting had been restored, thanks to the new coating.

“I said, ‘OK, this is a Christmas miracle,'” Little said.

Over the years, Rowan Helping Ministries officials estimate, the Christmas Honor Cards have raised close to $700,000 for the organization dedicated to helping those in need. From 2002 through 2015 alone, the sale of the Christmas cards and donations related to the annual cards project brought in $450,000.

Kyna Grubb, executive director of RHM, said this year’s card is expected to generate $35,000 to $40,000 from sales and donations.

Those funds have gone toward RHM’s mission of involving the community in helping the community.

Among the services the volunteer-driven organization provides are feeding and sheltering the homeless, providing clothes, paying utility bills and rent for those in need, stocking a pantry and distributing food to the poor.

The efforts take the form of the homeless shelter and Jeannie’s Kitchen in the Robertson-Stanback Center on North Long Street; the Clothing Center, Food Pantry and Crisis Assistance Network at the Ralph W. Ketner Center; the Eagle’s Nest transitional housing; Rowan Helping Ministries-West; New Tomorrows; and Journey Forward.

The “Honor Card” concept is that people can give these cards in honor of their recipients, while also letting them know the card helped in funding the RHM mission. Here’s what the cards say inside:

“During this season of sharing, a gift has been made in your honor that will allow Rowan Helping Ministries to put God’s love into action by providing for essential life needs of those in crisis in our community.”

Each card costs $5, or represents a $5 donation. RHM also has artist-signed cards from 2003 to 2016, which are available at $10 each; a collection of artist-signed cards from 1993 to 2002 for $100 a set; and a collection of signed cards from 2003 to 2015 for $100 a set.

The 2017 Christmas Honor Cards are available at Ace Hardware in Rockwell, The Hot Dog Shack and Price Pharmacy in Granite Quarry, and The Sugar Fairy Sweet Shop in Spencer.

In Salisbury, the cards can be purchased at Caniche, Critters, Fine Frame Gallery, Godley’s Garden Center, Koco Java, Lion’s Share Credit Union, Queen’s Gifts and Stitchin’ Post Gifts.

The cards also are available at F&M Bank’s eight Rowan County locations.

RHM puts out a call to artists every year for submissions to be considered for the Honor Card.

“We had a lot of really great entries, so it was really a tough decision,” Grubb said of this year’s choices.

The artwork submitted was narrowed down to four, then the selection committee considered what could be reproduced well on a card.

The RHM committee also liked the message reflected in Little’s simple Christmas tree ornament and its translation to how important donors and volunteers are to the nonprofit agency.

“We really do feel like there are angels among us,” Grubb said.

Little’s painting shows an angel reflected in a blue ornament. The original photo from which she worked had her own image and hand reaching for the ball, and she substituted an angel instead.

Little said she thought about all the money people spend on Christmas decorations each year and realized what an impact they could have by directing a good portion of that money to an organization such as RHM.

“We could be the angels,” Little said.

In referencing Little’s “Angels Among Us” title, the back of the Honor Card says, “At Rowan Helping Ministries, we believe our donors and volunteers — nearly 5,000 strong — may be the angels among us.

“By giving their gifts of time and treasure, these angels serve in extraordinary ways. Through our services, our neighbors caught in the riptides of financial crisis and homelessness can find solid ground for building better and more hope-filled lives.”

Little said she likes to think the Honor Cards translate to a good night’s sleep, a hot meal, a warm coat or a new pair of shoes for people in need.

Little said the ornament depicted was from a cellphone picture she had snapped while taking down her office Christmas tree last year. As for her own Christmas trees at home, Little said she uses only reindeer as ornaments.

Check it out, but this year’s Honor Card also has a reindeer ornament blending in with the tree.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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