By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Christmas cards purchased through Nutritional Development Services (NDS) of the Philadelphia Archdiocese could help the needy of the Philadelphia area have a happy and hearty Christmas and New Year.

“The alternative Christmas card project, now in its 28th year, continues to be a wonderful vehicle for many people to celebrate the birth of Jesus,” said Anne H. Ayella, the assistant director for community relations for NDS.

“Instead of buying into the commercialism of Christmas, the cards give twice by sharing greetings with loved ones and touching the hungry in our area as well.” {{more}}

Through the alternative Christmas card project, Ayella assists Denise Hopkins, who is the administrator of the NDS Community Food Program.

By purchasing cards from NDS, Catholics will help feed the local needy and, at the same time, restock local emergency food cupboards and soup kitchens.

Each card notes that a donation in the name of its recipient will help the hungry.

As the country’s current financial crisis has caused an increase in the number of poor served by NDS, the amount of the organization’s donations has decreased, according to NDS.

NDS’ alternative Christmas card project is the organization’s sole fundraising endeavor.

Patrons may choose among 13 designs. Variety packs are also available. The 5-by-7-inch cards are printed on a durable cream stock in either blue, green, gold or burgundy ink.

A 10-card pack is $15. A 20-card pack is $25. Although not mandatory, patrons are asked to cover the cards’ shipping expenses – $1.90 for a pack of 10 cards, $4.95 for a pack of 20 cards.

Designed by Patty Smith of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Wayne, Chester County, the cards feature depictions of the Nativity; a shepherd boy; a drummer boy; the Christmas Lamb; the Little Child of Peace; the gift of peace; a little angel at work; an angel of bounty; angels decorating a Christmas tree; a Christmas tree; the heart of Mary; Jesus, the Child of Wonder and, new this year, the Dove of Peace.

To view the images of all 13 cards and to print an order form to send by standard mail, visit the web site (link )

This year, priests of the Philadelphia Archdiocese may purchase, then take pen in hand, to sign an alternative Christmas card designed solely for them. They have two designs from which to choose: a depiction of the Nativity and or the Christmas Lamb. The inscription inside both cards reads:

“May the blessings of the Christ Child be yours this Christmas and throughout the New Year. You and your loved ones will be remembered in the holy sacrifice of the Mass on Christmas Day.”

Msgr. Daniel J. Sullivan, the Archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy and chairman of the NDS board, said: “One of the greatest gifts we are able to offer as priests is a remembrance in the Masses we are privileged to celebrate on Christmas Day.

“To have the announcement of that gift made within a card that at the same time demonstrates our concern for the poor and the hungry allows us to make Christ present in the Eucharist as well as in a very concrete way, in the lives of our brothers and sisters in need.”

For more information, call Denise Hopkins at 215-895-3486, extension 712, or e-mail