Loudon County students get to show off their artistic talents during the holidays thanks to members of Tellico Village’s Adopt-a-Class.

The nonprofit’s greeting card fundraiser takes place in November and benefits Loudon, Steekee and Vonore elementary schools.

“The first line was very successful and people asked at that point could we do holiday cards and we thought that was a terrific idea,” Karen Hamerslag, Adopt-a-Class founder and director, said. “So we started very early with contacts through the schools for our artwork and have moved forward since then.

“... We contacted all three schools to ensure their participation and got a head count of about how many kids would be producing art for us and it turned out to be several hundred total,” she added. “We stuck with the upper grades at Loudon and Steekee — that would be fourth and fifth grade. Monroe County has their fifth-graders in middle school, so it was third and fourth grade at Vonore Elementary.”

Students were given leeway for creativity, with the one requirement that each card needed a Christmas theme.

“We gave them comps, like a couple of different categories, things related to holiday decorations, Santa Claus was OK to use, then any winter scenes,” Hamerslag said. “They were specifically meant to be holiday so we wanted them to be applicable for people to use as holiday cards but giving them flexibility for their subject. We chose them, not necessarily, although I think all of these are pretty outstanding, but we chose not only for the very best artistic portrayal but so we can have a variation of themes. We wanted a snowman and the Grinch was great and Santa’s sled was outstanding and Santa Claus.”

“We also wanted them to look like they were made by children,” Bess Clemens, Adopt-a-Class board vice chairwoman, added.

From the hundreds of cards created, Hamerslag said about 20-25 from each school made the next cut. That total was whittled to four from each school for a 12-card box set.

“The talent’s terrific,” Hamerslag said.

Cards were on sale today during the Ladies Luncheon and Fashion Show’s The Shoppes of Christmas at the Yacht Club. Clemens said 40 boxes were ordered earlier.

“Our first printing was 200 boxes, a lot of cards,” Hamerslag said. “I’m hoping to go to a second printing. My goal would be to sell 300 to 400 boxes, but we’ll be profitable. Of course, with all of our fundraisers, 100% of the profits go to our three adopted schools.”

Cards will also be available by sending a $12 check to Adopt-a-Class, 232 Elohi Way, Loudon, TN 37774. Free home delivery is offered within Tellico Village. Hamerslag asks that people include their name, delivery address and contact information.

The cards are on display at The Public Library at Tellico Village and at www.adoptaclasstn.org and can also be purchased at the three schools.

“The Adopt-a-Class group is an amazing asset to LES,” Christie Amburn, LES principal, said in an email correspondence. “They continually fill needs for both teacher and student supplies. Their volunteers are back in classrooms this year, and we are thrilled to have them working with students and teachers. Their presence is making a positive difference every day at LES.”

Donna Stapleton, SES principal, said the same was true at her school.

“Adopt-a-Class supports our school in many ways,” Stapleton said in an email correspondence. “They are generous with their time and other resources. They provide school supplies for our students, classroom supplies for our teachers, support and assistance in the classroom by working with students directly. They also provide assistance at home by completing projects for teachers that would otherwise take teacher time and attention away from planning meaningful instructional activities for our students. We are fortunate to partner with them to support our students and teachers.”

Hamerslag said about $4,000 bought items school teachers or administration requested as the school year started.

“The economic need is there,” she said.

She thanked Villagers for donations earlier this year, which ran “well into thousands of dollars” worth of supplies.

“They got glutted with crayons, lots of crayons,” Hamerslag said, laughing.

The group now has a board of directors that Hamerslag said she hopes will help move the nonprofit forward.

“I’m very glad that we have a board now because it’s very helpful to me to help with the decision-making where previously I would call various people for advice for the management of Adopt-a-Class and now have I have a formal board of nine people that I can solicit opinions from,” Hamerslag said. “The specific reason that it came about now was that I started to make grant applications and one of the organizations which I submitted a fairly large grant to wanted a list of my board of directors and strongly suggested we have a board of directors. I was very lucky that I had nine excellent volunteers that were willing to serve.”

Her long-term dream is to purchase subscriptions for children’s magazine Highlights for 1,100 students.

“It’s very expensive and it’s well beyond the budget,” she said. “My priced quote for all the 1,100 kids that go to our three schools was about $16,000 for six months, which is so much beyond our budget. I cut in half for grants to say three grades, lower grades probably and do a matching. I’m trying to raise about a little over $5,000 and then we can match to make it enough for three grades.”