Thousands of people in Pennsylvania will receive Christmas Seals in the mail this month, courtesy of the American Lung Association. The decorative holiday stamps are part of an annual fundraising tradition dating back to 1907 when the Lung Association led efforts to conquer tuberculosis.
"Most Americans today have no vivid memories of how widespread deadly tuberculosis was before the 1950s, but it claimed entire families and struck down people from all walks of life," said Deb Brown, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid Atlantic.
The American Lung Association 2012 Christmas Seals celebrity chairwoman is singer, actress and Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose. She is the star of Broadway shows such as "Caroline, or Change" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and hit films including "Dreamgirls," "Just Add Water" and Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" and, most recently, CBS's "The Good Wife," ABC's "Private Practice" and "Company" for PBS.
Rose manages her asthma every day to make sure it doesn't get in her way of success. She has joined the American Lung Association to share her story and speak out for those with asthma.
In 1907, tuberculosis sanatoriums were springing up around the country, but most were makeshift and only could care for a few patients at a time.
One of these sanatoriums in Delaware, which was in desperate financial straits, was run by a doctor named Joseph Wales. He asked his cousin Emily Bissell for help in raising money to care for patients.
She came up with the fundraising idea of the Christmas Seals, and the American Lung Association has used this concept for more than 100 years.
"While we have a rich history with our Christmas Seals and the fight against tuberculosis, the Lung Association is now waging new battles, including the fight against influenza and the fight for healthy lungs and air nationwide and right here in Pennsylvania," Brown said.
Anyone may visit www.ChristmasSeals.org to learn more about the history of Christmas Seals, to make a donation or to send a holiday e-card.