A lovely family home, one that comes complete with a festive wreath posted at the door, stands at the center of an ornamental snowball; one bearing the street address of 2023 and surrounded by towering trees and mounds of white fluffy snowfall. The artistically designed snowball stands against a setting of lacy snowflakes, some of which come emblazoned with the trademark logo of one of the nation’s most esteemed help agencies: the United Way.
“Happy Holidays! Live United!” reads a message accompanying this image. “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.”
This is the design that adorns this year’s 2023 United Way holiday card. Ah, but the card is not quite complete! It requires the loving and creative touch of a special child artist who will bring cheer and color to this shining portrait of blissful yuletide celebration.
“Hernando County children are invited to participate in this year’s Annual Holiday Card Coloring Contest! This opportunity is offered to preschool students through 5th grade (Hernando County Schools and daycares, private schools, Hernando eSchool, and home-schooled students),” said Angie B. Walasek, Executive Director/CEO of United Way. “Submitted artwork is reviewed by United Way’s Student Board, where 5 lucky winners who creatively embrace the LIVE UNITED spirit will have their artwork featured on United Way of Hernando County’s Annual Holiday Card. Cards are distributed every December to over 200 community partners, local businesses, Board of Directors, and more.”
The United Way coloring contest has become a tradition in the county.
“This now-anticipated annual opportunity has been offered to Hernando students since the fall of 2015,” said Walasek.
This year’s design offers a refreshing new twist: the addition of a wintertime snow scene. “Regarding what inspired the design,” said Walasek. “Annually, our outreach team really attempts to come up with templates that give students the opportunity to splash it with color and incorporate intricate designs. Often times, so many holiday projects are all about snow – however, in Florida, that’s never a part of our holiday season. In years past, we’ve put a fun twist on holiday beach themes and Santa surfing, even SandMen (instead of snowmen). But with last December’s weather breaking state records with cold temperatures, we snuck in a snow globe this year and thought it was appropriate!”
The winning design, said Walasek, will feature a certain creative and artistic flair, as applied to a colorful overall design.
“Our Student Board Members (local students ages 15-20) select our top 5 winners every year. With hundreds of submissions, they take this job very seriously. I’ve heard them in meetings before debating about the submitted artwork, the creativity, and pointing out those who really make the card their own,” revealed Walasek. “Some years, they truly can’t stick to just 5 and we highlight 6-8.”
And each year, said Walasek, each United Way card becomes a collectible in the eyes of many of its grateful recipients.
“We also have corporate partners who have shared that they collect these cards and display all of the winners in their office each December, anxiously waiting for the new card to “drop”,” said Walasek. “We also love to recognize the winning students by delivering a special prize directly to their school and congratulating them in front of their classmates.”
Submissions can be dropped off or mailed to the United Way office, 4028 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606; or scanned (front & back) and emailed to [email protected]. All colored (front and back) art must be returned no later than Nov. 30TH. Download 2023’s Holiday Card Coloring Sheet by visiting www.UnitedWayHernando.org/ColoringContest