The winning design in a new Christmas card contest by archdiocesan Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) was Lorraine K., a resident of CHCS’s St. Francis Villa senior housing residence in Philadelphia’s Kensington section. (Facebook/Catholic Housing and Community Services)

Several seniors in the Philadelphia Archdiocese have gotten creative – and a bit competitive – in spreading Christmas cheer.

Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) has just announced the winners of its first-ever Christmas Card Design Contest.

The archdiocesan agency provides a continuum of care to the region’s older adults through activity centers, in-home support and affordable housing.

CHCS challenged clients of its housing, senior center and parish eldercare programs to come up with an original design depicting the “Peace of the Christmas Season” for the agency’s official 2020 Christmas card. Staff then had the difficult task of deciding which of the submissions — which featured bright colors and heartfelt, handwritten messages – would go to press.

Lorraine K., a resident at St. Francis Villa in the city’s Kensington section, emerged as the winner with a detailed pen-and-ink drawing of a Christmas tree, topped by a star and a white dove with extended wings. Sprays of holly and a pleated, plaid tree blanket completed the scene.

Four other seniors were also recognized for their original designs. Jacqueline S. of St. John Neumann Place in South Philadelphia envisioned angels of all races hovering above the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, with humans below holding up signs for peace. Jewel H. of St. Edmond Senior Community Center, also in South Philadelphia, sketched a star of Bethlehem pouring its rays over earth. Against a striking black background, fellow St. Edmond Center client Kay B. placed a trio of choristers above a traveling Holy Family.

Above all, said CHCS director Heather Huot, the Christmas card project brought “a message of hope and peace” amid “a year when we have all been struggling with isolation and uncertainty.”

Since the outset of the pandemic, the agency has redoubled its efforts to ensure the physical, mental and emotional health of clients, providing grab-and-go meals, wellness calls and access to vital benefits such as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Seniors served by CHCS have in turn offered their own advice for staying healthy and counting one’s blessings amid COVID. The Christmas cards are another way the agency can “send a message of hope and peace … through the artwork of our very creative and talented older adults,” said Huot.

“We hope that everyone that receives one of our Christmas cards this year is uplifted … and reminded of the spirit of Christmas,” she said.