It's beginning to look like Christmas for young Phoenix Children's artists - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

It's beginning to look like Christmas for young Phoenix Children's artists

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Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012 5:47 pm | Updated: 3:15 pm, Tue Aug 21, 2012.

At home, Rosie Garcia has a lot of pets — dogs, cats, fish and birds, doves to be exact, named Cloud and Sun.

Rosie, of Mesa, is a 21-year-old patient at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. She rendered a combination of her two doves to be on a Christmas card — “Dove in Stained Glass,” for the 26th Annual Holiday Card Printing. The printing of the cards done by young patients at the hospital, is part of a longtime Christmas tradition and is hot off the press.

Although the packages of five different cards depicting holiday scenes won’t be available in Safeway grocery stores until Nov. 1 and Christmas is just four months away, Ironwood Lithographics in Tempe on Friday kicked off its first press run of about 200,000 cards. The Holiday Art Project is the center’s largest fundraiser and has raised more than $5 million since its inception, according to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The cards can be ordered through the website, www.pchkidsart.org.

Although it was starting to get hot outside Friday morning, the press room inside of Ironwood looked a lot like Christmas — a lighted tree was set up by the presses and a wooden arrow sign that said “Santa’s workshop” pointed toward the end of the press where large sheets of the cards came out.

And that’s not all, the Man in Red — Santa Claus — showed up, checking the cards and checking them twice so he could see that they all looked nice, and to continue his longstanding working partnership between the elves at the North Pole, the U.S. Postal Service and Ironwood Lithographics.

Ironwood, which began as Heritage Graphics, has printed the young patients’ Christmas cards for Phoenix Children’s Hospital free of charge for the hospital all 26 years of the project with the help of Ironwood president Don Benner and Tom Wells, vice president of sales.

“It’s an excellent project for the kids, community and the hospital,” Santa Claus said. “It’s a good way for the kids and the community to give back.”

Rosie, the daughter of Jackie and Robert Garcia of Mesa, walks with the help of a cane and has full use of just one hand. She suffers from a brain tumor which has required extensive treatment.

“I have birds at home,” Rosie said as a printing press whirred behind her, releasing sheets of the five different holiday cards. “I was thinking of the white dove that means peace in the world and a stained glass window of a church for a background.”

Rosie, who attended Mesa High School and also volunteers at the hospital, said that drawing helps her with her therapy. The “Dove in Stained Glass” is the third Christmas card she has drawn since being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. In the past, Rosie has drawn Christmas cards such as cookies with a reindeer and a snowman.

“There’s really no words to describe it,” Rosie said of seeing her Christmas cards being sold from a store.

Other artists for this year’s holiday cards are: Elizabeth Blair, 6, of Phoenix who drew “Rainbow Star,” Emma Lee, 7, of Scottsdale who drew “Midnight Snowman,” Jutona Vanverdier, 9, of Red Rock who drew “North Pole Penguin,” and Kamee Weeks, 7, of Phoenix who drew “Heart Angel.”

The cards are sold in packages of 15 for $10, and the cards are available for corporate sponsorships to become a company’s official Christmas card through the hospital’s foundation for $1,000.

The Art Project was created not only to help support the center through the funds they raise, but also involve children in art and craft projects that help them cope with stress. Each year, Phoenix Children’s Hospital holds dozens of art workshops with the help of local artists to show patients different forms of art and how to use their imaginations to help them keep their minds off their illnesses.

The center is the largest provider of hematology and oncology care in Arizona and offers state-of-the-art pediatric cancer management to almost half of the children diagnosed with malignancies or life-threatening hematologic diseases. Through individual and corporate contributions, the center is able to provide new research options, education, financial assistance and psychosocial support for the patients and their families.

Seventy-five percent of all children with cancer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital are cured of the disease, according to Dr. Michael Etzl Jr., division chief of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Emma Lee, the daughter of Keri and Matt Lee, who is a second-grader at Scottsdale’s Cochise Elementary School, likes to draw her dog Grace and also distinctive backgrounds to make her subject stand out. Emma, who suffers from a spine condition and undergoes chemotherapy, is a fourth generation Arizonan. She also likes to draw her twin brother Tom and younger sister, Kate.

Emma said when she drew her card, she “just thought of Christmas.”

When Emma was asked if she thought it was neat to have her cards sold in a store, she nodded her head “yes.”

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