Rowan Helping Ministries celebrates end of deep-rooted Christmas tradition

Published 9:11 pm Friday, November 15, 2019

Dozens of past Christmas Honor Card artists, residents and staff members met Thursday night at Railwalk Studios & Gallery for the annual artist reception.

The only difference this year was there was not a single artist to recognize. Instead, the organization welcomed several past artists and displayed 26 years’ worth of art — starting from 1993, when Rowan Helping Ministries began the tradition.

After 2019, Rowan Helping Ministries will no longer sell Christmas Honor Cards during the holiday season.

Since the project began, the organization has enlisted local artists to submit original artwork that visually conveys its 33-year history of serving neighbors in need. A committee met to select a single piece of art that would then be duplicated and printed on hundreds of cards. 

The chosen artists were honored with a small reception with friends and family, where they shared their inspiration and meaning behind the artwork. The cards were then sold to the public by the agency, board members, various banks and retail stores. 

Artists who previously had their art selected attended Thursday’s reception. 

From left, Kyna Grubb, executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries; David Simmons, husband of Carole Simmons (past artist); Phyllis Steimel; Rebecca T. Little; Betty Sedberry; Marietta Foster Smith; and Dianne K. Scott, former executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries, were among those attending a reception Thursday to mark the end of Rowan Helping Ministries’ Christmas Honor Card tradition. Submitted photo

Dianne K. Scott was executive director of Rowan Helping Ministries when it started the Christmas Honor Card program. Scott shared a few words of nostalgia, reflecting on how the tradition began as a fundraiser to help the agency meet its budget.

“Through the years, it has become more than just a holiday card. It’s a thoughtful gesture to show someone you care, with each card carrying a special meaning that represents Rowan Helping Ministries’ mission,” said Kyna Grubb, the agency’s current executive director.   

The decision to end the tradition was attributed in a news release to a steady decline in Christmas cards being mailed during the holidays. With the increase in stamp costs and advent of personalized greeting cards, Rowan Helping Ministries has seen a noticeable decrease in card purchases, the release said.

“Some people think writing letters is time-consuming. An email or text message may only take a few seconds to produce and send, but it just isn’t the same as receiving a tangible letter straight to your mailbox,” said Erica Taylor, community relations manager for Rowan-Helping Ministries. 

Last year’s Christmas Honor Card raised just over $20,000, a decrease of $15,000 from 2017. This year, Rowan Helping Ministries will offer individual cards from years past or bundles from 1993 to 2018. 

Cards may be purchased at the following locations:

• Rowan Helping Ministries, 226 N. Long St.

• Caniche

• Critter’s

• Diversified Graphics

• F&M Bank’s eight branches in Rowan County

• Fine Frame Gallery

• Godley’s Garden Center

• The Hot Dog Shack, Granite Quarry

• Kitchen Store

• Koco Java

• Lion’s Share Credit Union

• The Medicine Shoppe

• Price Pharmacy, Granite Quarry

• Stitchin’ Post Gifts

• Sugar Fairy Sweet Shop, Spencer

Money raised from the Christmas Honor Card sales will benefit Rowan Helping Ministries’ programs and services. 

For more information or to purchase cards, contact Karen Taylor at 704-637-6838, Ext. 100, email at