NEENAH — Stars and stripes, flags and red, white and blue.
The colors and sights of the Fourth of July might be a bit less prevalent this year, but their color and images spangle the cards homebound members of St. Gabriel Parish in Neenah are receiving this month.
The cards are part of the monthly card ministry the parish operates, sending cards to 40-50 people each month to say hello and let them know they aren’t forgotten.
“Nobody gets mail anymore. Nobody writes letters anymore,” said Sandy Brost, who heads the monthly card ministry, called the St. Gabriel Stampers. “We get notes back thanking us and saying how much they enjoy them.”
Each month’s card project has a theme — such as Christmas, Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. The theme for July is Independence Day.
Brost said about 10 people do the cards regularly — including four or five who remain anonymous and just drop their handmade cards off at the parish.
“It just amazes me,” Brost said. “We all buy our same stuff at the same place, but the cards are always different and we hardly ever get somebody who has duplicated somebody else’s card.”
Besides the monthly themed cards, Brost said there are also cards sent to people who have lost loved ones to death. They receive cards for one year after the loss.
While Ann Moen has done cards for over 20 years, she only recently started doing cards for St. Gabriel. She lives in Neenah and attends church there often, even though she is a member at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.
“This is the first time I’ve done cards for anything other than my own personal cards,” Moen said. “It was fun to do something out of my normal realm.”
Both women started making homemade cards after attending card-making or scrapbook parties at friends’ homes.
“It just grew from there,” Brost said. “Right now my dining room is full because somebody donated a bunch of cards that were half done and I’ve been trying to get them done and down to St. Gabe’s.”
Besides making the cards for St. Gabriel, Moen also sends cards to friends and neighbors. For those, she has a signature element to her design.
“I like to use colored envelopes,” she explained. “It makes it stand out in the mail. (There’s) all those white bills you get. If you get a card with a purple or a green envelope, it just makes it stand out that much more. Colored envelopes are kind of my thing.”
With all the choices in themes and season, neither woman has a particular favorite type of card; they just enjoy a new adventure each time.
“I go on Pinterest and there are hundreds of ideas on there, so there is always something new to try,” said Brost.
Moen does have a special tie to this particular holiday. The Fourth of July was her grandfather’s birthday. Jack Verbeten was what his granddaughter calls “an all-American kind of guy. He was very patriotic, played football and basketball in high school (in Kaukauna). He was a very all-American, Wisconsin guy.”