Schoolgirls design Christmas cards for fundraiser

‘Turtle Claus’ was designed by Chloe Connolly, 9, who won in the age 4-10 category.

Santa Claus arrived a little early this year for Chloe Connolly, 9, and Bella Grieff, 15. On Tuesday, the two girls were announced as winners of a Christmas card design contest, which is part of a fundraising drive for Hannah’s Heroes.

This is the second year Wall Creations has used a card design produced by a child to raise funds for a local charity, but it is the first year that all Cayman schoolchildren were invited to participate.

Students from 10 schools submitted artwork, according to Zoe Wall, the head of sales for Wall Creations, who oversaw the contest. Five judges whittled down final images from more than 1,000 entries that included designs incorporating such things as turtles, dolphins, snowmen, elves, decorated palm trees and religious figures.

In addition to the two winners, James Kennedy, 8, of Cayman Prep was awarded an honorable mention.

Ms. Wall, who was not a judge, said the idea for the contest got its start last year. Griffin McDonald, then 9, was so impressed by a presentation on feeding those in need by Feed Our Future, that he designed a Christmas card to raise money for the charity. Wall Creations helped out by printing the card and placing it in Books & Books. Nearly 700 cards were sold and $3,000 was raised.

The two cards this year are distinctly different from one another. Bella, a student at Cayman Prep, created a stylized line drawing of a Christmas tree with a parrot and a turtle. Chloe, who attends Cayman International School, designed a more cartoon-like painting with a turtle dressed as Santa Claus.

Bella said she often spends her lunch hours painting in the school’s art room.

“I love doing watercolor,” she said. “I usually do faces, but for this, I wanted to do something different.”

The idea of using a parrot and turtle came to her quickly, she said.

“[Organizers] said to do something about Cayman Christmas,” she said. “They were the first things to come to mind.”

Having the proceeds from the sale of the cards go to Hannah’s Heroes is “a big added bonus,” Bella said. Her hair is just beginning to grow back from taking part in last month’s Big Shave event to benefit the charity. She teamed up with a friend, who also had her head shaved. Together, she said, they raised $1,500 for the charity that supports research on childhood cancers.

Chloe said she felt compelled to help out as well.

“I never thought art would be related to charity,” said the fifth grader. “I thought, ‘I have to do this.’”

Chloe’s family moved to Cayman from Perth, Australia, recently. Until she came here, she said, she had not really done much artwork.

“I like to paint the most,” she said. “I like to paint galaxies and watercolor and animals.”

Bella Grieff won the competition for best card design in the age 11-16 category.

Her card design, titled “Turtle Claus,” depicts a green and yellow turtle in a red hat and suit sitting in a boat being pulled by a team of colorful fish.

“I thought of the turtle from the Cayman Coat of Arms,” she said, “and [as] the national animal. It took me awhile to find what I could do with the reindeer. There’s lots of fish around the Cayman Islands.”

So the connection seemed natural. She said the card competition is the first thing she’s ever won.

“I was very, very, very excited,” she said. “I never thought that would happen.”

Ms. Wall emphasized that 100 percent of the proceeds from the cards will go to Hannah’s Heroes. She said she has no projected goals for this year’s fundraiser. Plans call for an initial printing of 500 for each of the two cards. Once again, they will be available at Books & Books.

“If another retailer comes to me and says, ‘We’ll stock them,’ that would be great,” Ms. Wall said. “The more the merrier.”

The cards are expected to be on the shelves at Books & Books by the second week of November.