Sister Rosalie sends her greetings

Hallmark has nothing on Sister Rosalie Kastner.

The former teacher’s hobby is recycling greeting cards into new creations for holidays, celebrations and birthdays. It’s a hobby she’s enjoyed for about 20 years.

“I’m just a giving person,” she said. “I’m glad I can do it. It just keeps me busy.”

In her room at Salem Heights, used greeting cards are stored in shoeboxes organized by topic and holiday. Sister Rosalie sorts them and saves what she can. She tears off covers and cuts out the sayings and designs. Those are pasted onto construction paper to create something new. Craft scissors give her cards a decorative finish.

She distributes birthday cards to Sisters who live in Salem Heights and the nearby area, often leaving them outside their rooms. She maintains a list of Sisters’ birthdays and makes the cards up to three months in advance. She also makes cards for Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

“It’s just maintaining that contact with them,” she said. “I think they appreciate it.”

Sister Rosalie also makes hundreds of Christmas ornaments each year from recycled cards. They are given to Sisters and friends. Dozens are sent to residents in area nursing homes for use year after year.

A life-long collector of various items, Sister Rosalie’s card-making goes back to her days as an elementary school teacher. She would make Valentine’s Day cards and sell them to students for a penny as fund raisers. She continued her hobby after retiring and moving to Dayton. Word about her efforts got out and soon people were sending her used cards to recycle.

A former teacher, Sister Rosalie taught at schools in Ohio, Arizona and California for about 60 years. She still teaches once a week at the Brunner Literacy Center. She also keeps busy with jigsaw puzzles, visiting the Sisters at Emma Hall on Saturdays and is a sacristan in the Salem Heights Chapel.

Still, recycling greeting cards is her special gift.

“I just enjoy doing it,” she said. “I think it’s good because it’s a way of cheering up people, especially the ones who need it the most.”

- Dave Eck