(LEAVENWORTH, Kansas) — Christmas is just a few weeks away, but for two tiny towns in Kansas, workers have been preparing for the holiday like busy Santa elves all year.
At the two Hallmark plants in Leavenworth and Lawrence, 1,100 workers are responsible for dreaming up — and then packing up — millions of Christmas cards that get signed, sealed and delivered across the world.
“As a Hallmark writer, you kinda get into the spirit a lot earlier than most people do,” said Andrew Blackburn, who has worked at the company for eight years.
Blackburn said his parents, Tim and Brenda Blackburn, had inspired him.
The Hallmark company has been celebrating the holiday since 1910. That year, co-founder JC Hall, then 18, traveled from Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, and stepped off the train with shoeboxes of postcards.
With help from his brother Rollie Hall, around 1915, JC Hall began making and selling a new kind of card — a greeting card — and sending them inside envelopes.
“That was the start,” said Lisamarie Soper, Hallmark Gold Crown’s district manager.
Hallmark was born.
“From the writing I do to the lettering, the illustration, the design. It all happens right here,” said Amy Trowbridge Yates, who’s been at the company for more than 12 years.
Kiely Chase, a Hallmark writer for 17 years, drew from her memories with her brothers to help write some cards. She also shared her recipe for writing holiday cards early in the year.
“I’m watching movies, you know, that everybody loves to watch at Christmas time,” she said. “I’m listening to favorite Christmas songs, you know, that we all love.”
And, with those cards, Hallmark also offers gift-wrapping paper. Every year, 700 million feet are printed and it’s all made in America.
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