When Charlotte Steiner began work on her first children’s ‘Holiday Greetings’ issue for the Mercer Island Reporter in the fall of 1967, everything else at the Mercer Island Reporter ground to a halt. Wielding the phone, cigarette in hand, she coaxed, wheedled and demanded that Islander businesses sponsor a child’s handmade holiday drawing for the special section printed each December in the Reporter.
She called everyone: Island business owners, the fire chief, the police chief, realtors, clergy, dry cleaners, dentists, plumbers, doctors, physical therapists, florists, pet stores, car dealers, roofers, hardware stores, candy stores, banks, bookstores, taverns and restaurants, landscapers and hair salons, pizza stores, furniture stores, clothing stores, gas stations and more. Mrs. Steiner rarely took no for an answer. “It was about the children,” she would remind the listener.
The Holiday Greeting section of the Reporter has since become an Island tradition, a compilation of joyous holiday drawings gathered from eager elementary school children. The drawings, both fine and primitive, are always heartfelt. Every single one an expression of hope and joy and excitement for the holiday to come.
Mrs. Steiner continued in her role for nearly 30 years, continuing her work from her bedroom at home even after she became ill. Proofs for ads and paperwork from the Reporter were delivered by hand to her home. But despite the challenges, Holiday Greetings flourished.
After Mrs. Steiner died in early 2006, the time leading up to the holidays was never quite the same. Happily enough, Charlotte’s holiday mission was carried on for a few years by her daughter Annie. Today, Charlotte and Annie’s holiday legacy continues to live on, both on the Island and here at the Reporter.
This year, we are preparing for our 46th issue of the Mercer Island Holiday Greetings. Our greatest hope is to print as many drawings as possible from our eager young artists. We hope you can help us deliver the biggest issue ever this year, stuffed with art from those who make the holidays a special time. We do it for the children and for Mrs. Steiner.