30 December, 2009

Shine The Light on Hunger - 3,831 pounds so far - still a ways to go

Gardner Sheffield keeps a close eye on the food collection trailer, the yellow food collection bucket, and the weather.  He called to say that with wintry mix in the forecast, we better empty the trailer, "Why don't I take half the food to Second Harvest Food Bank and half to Urban Ministry?"  With Second Harvest's partner agency demand up 75% this year and Urban Ministry's pantry overflowing at the moment, we made the executive decision to allocate 100% of this trailer load to Second Harvest

First the good news.  This installment weighed in at 943 pounds, bringing the Shine the Light on Hunger total so far to 3,831.  As of this moment, the food's been inspected, sorted, and is on its way to needy persons. 

Now the bad news:  nearly 50 million people -- including almost one child in four -- struggled last year to get enough to eat.  You can read how America's economic pain has brought on hunger pangs here.   After you finish that, get a copy of the USDA's report on food security (insecurity) in America).  Warning: it's not for the faint of heart, but go on and read it anyway.

In 2007, Friends of Lighted Christmas Balls in Sunset Hills collected 2,976 pounds of food. 

In 2008, we collected 4,000 pounds, up 34%, during a recession I might add. 

This year's goal is 10,000 pounds.  I don't know where we got a goal that's 2 1/2 times what we collected last year, but there it is. 

At 3,831 pounds we're not there yet, and that's where you come in.  We would love for you to gather up all the non-perishable food you can fit in your car, truck or backpack and come see the lights, and donate food here or here.  Tell your family, friends, and co-workers.  If you're retired and your home is a retirement center, fill at least one seat on the bus with non-perishable food.  If you run, get everyone in your running club to grab 2 cans of food and run to the yellow barrel or food collection trailer.  Just come and bring food.  You'll be glad you did. 

29 December, 2009

Now seen in Sweden - Lighted Christmas Balls

Jonathan was asked to give a program for his Gate City Rotary Club in place of a speaker who had to cancel last minute. He is always glad to talk abut the Lighted Christmas Balls and a Rotarian here on business from Sweden did a make-up meeting at Gate City. He was quite taken with the Lighted Christmas Balls and visited Sunset Hills at night, took the instructions home to Sweden and here are his photos from his home there. It is fun to see them all over Greensboro and fun to see them cross the oceans to other countries. It has blessed us beyond measure to see the excitement and fun they bring.

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28 December, 2009

Tater Tots !!

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Last week, Jonathan ran into someone and they told him that they had made the Lighted Christmas Balls and put them up but they looked a little more like Tater Tots than anything else - I had to laugh because honestly some of ours looks a little tottish themselves. 

This week, we went on Aycock to Lee Street to eat dinner at St. Luis - a wonderful little Mexican place.  We took two cars as we were meeting there after work and we both almost ran off the road looking back into College Hill at some Lighted Christmas Balls way up high and plenty of them.  After dinner, we took the opportunity to take in South College Park Drive.  WOW - it was splendid and beautiful - Go over to see them.  They are wonderful. 

That inspired me to try to find a single street in Sunset Hills which didn't have a ball or two or twenty.  Did I find one? No, not one!  Every street, place, way, or drive had some form of Lighted Christmas Balls hanging from trees, awnings, porches or something.  Some of them looked a bit like Tater Tots but they all looked grand. 

It made me happy to live here in Sunset Hills and have you driven to Glenwood on Lee Street, Gramercy off Westridge, Round Hill in New Irving Park, Lake Jeanette, or the many streets in Starmount, Hamilton Lakes, and even Old Irving Park?  We know there are dozens more neighborhoods which I have not ventured to and would love to know about them. 

A couple from Laurel MS is coming to see us in a couple of days just to see the Lighted Christmas Balls and meet us and some neighbors while they are here. 

Shine the Light on Hunger.  Food Drive going through the 3rd at least.  Tell your friends to come by and drop off some food.  It is easy and fun.

Australia - Lighted Balls there !!!

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Here is an email I received from Geoff in Australia:

I came across your Christmas balls on the internet, and thought they would be a great project - which they have been for our whole family. Here are the two we have in a poinciana tree out the front of our house. Please keep up the good work.

...Geoff, Rockhampton, Australia

The trailer keeps on filling up

Here's a shot taken Sunday night of the trailer at 11pm.  Seeing the trailer and it's companion, the yellow barrel, fill up again and again has been a tremendous joy to each person who's helped redistribute the food to 2nd Harvest Food Bank of NW North Carolina and Greensboro Urban Ministry.  I'm sure each person who's left left a can, box, or bag in one of the collection points has felt the surprise joy of being connected with other persons, even strangers, with a common heart of kindness. 

While it was still daylight, Harold, a person who's worked in Sunset Hills yards for decades, and a man of few words, was out blowing leaves out of the gutter and around the trailer.  I was at the trailer rebalancing boxes and bags of food.  Harold saw me, cut off his leaf blower and peered inside the trailer.  A long pause later he said, "It's a wonderful thing to live in a town where there's so many people who want to do good and share with others." Wish I could say that's been my reaction for all of 2009.  Maybe hearing Horace's pronouncement will help me change that. 

Gardner called this morning as I was leaving for work.  I could hear the smile in his voice. He was already in Winston Salem and had already taken 870 pounds of food to 2nd Harvest.  Christmas Eve, Gardner and his son Daniel and my son in law Johnathan and my son Justin and I took all the food that had piled up, filled his car till the springs started sagging, then put the rest of it in my Suburban.  I told him I was taking what we loaded in my Suburban that night to Urban Ministry.  I did.  It weighed in at 742 pounds.  So far, we've taken 2,888 pounds of food to 2nd Harvest and Urban Ministry.  And the week's just starting. 

I love how The Message translates Proverb 19:17.  It says, “Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.

It sure is a wonderful thing to live in a town where so many people who want to show mercy and do good.

25 December, 2009

Christmas Day evening #2

The view from the intersection of Rolling and Ridgeway looking across Gardner and Beth's front lawn and down Ridgeway Drive. 

Christmas Day evening

The view from the intersection of Rolling Road and Ridgeway Drive looking across the park onto Rolling Road. 

Rolling Road after the Blizzard of 2009

Pictures of Lighted Christmas Balls on Rolling Road after the Blizzard of 2009.  Rolling Road neighbors totally led the way in hospitality and in bringing the light. 

photographs Jamey Presson

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New video from Lighted Christmas Balls workshop 11/28

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23 December, 2009


Thanks, friends of the poor and of the Lighted Christmas Balls.  Your generosity touches many.  The food collection trailer looks like it's ready for one more trip to the Food Bank.

Arrow marks the Food Donation Trailer

We rigged up an Arrow with blinking lights to drive more traffic to the trailer.

22 December, 2009

All the way from Long Island Sound

A dear couple from Long Island came all the way, "just to see the lights," the Grandfather grinned. 

When I saw who was carrying the armful of canned goods, I knew the real reason for their visit to Greensboro, two granddaughters, one grandson, a daughter, maybe more. 

What a joy to be on the receiving end of from folks filled with the joy of giving. 

The little trailer is filling slowly but surely, albeit a little more slowly than I'd like to see.  If you're out and about, pick up an armload of non-perishable food, come visit the trailer, and see if the Lighted Christmas Balls don't burn more brightly than usual. 

788 pounds of non-perishable food given to 2nd Harvest Food Bank of NW North Carolina

It was after dark when I pulled into the driveway Thursday after work. In the distance, just past the trailer, I saw two persons rummaging thru the cans, bottles, boxes and bags that had been slowly accumulating.
I've wondered what I'd do if I encountered someone taking food from the trailer when the idea is to put food in.  (If they asked for my scarf would I give them my coat, too? I'm not so sure.)

Jesus words in Matthew 5 crossed my mind, "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

I nudged my Suburban around to the front yard only to find Janet Watford and Gardner Sheffield, unloading, sorting, repackaging, and reloading everything into Gardner's car. They were almost done.  I jumped in alongside and we finished in a few minutes.  I didn't tell them I thought they were food rustlers. 

The next day, Gardner drove his food filled car to Winston Salem. With the help of three hard working volunteers (pictured above), a grateful 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina reported that Sunset Hills Friends of Lighted Christmas Balls had donated 788 pounds of non-perishable food. 

We're still a long way off from our goal of 10,000 pounds.  If you're out touring Greensboro's beautiful Christmas lights, put a friend or two in your car, pack a sackful of non-perishable food, and come find one of the collection sites for food for NC food banks. Thanks.
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14 December, 2009

Shine The Light on Hunger

Everyone else's yard sign is at ground level. You can't miss this one - in a raised pot - it's at eye level. And everyone is asking WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE TERRIFIC SIGNS PRINTED? The answer is - of course- our buddy Matt at Bravo Signs did a dozen of them for us, just for the cause. He is all about shining the light on hunger. He does great work and is fun to work with.

13 December, 2009

In all truth it's really fun to be in the spot light....

Anne here: late one afternoon last week, Jerry Wolford photographer with News Record, and Wes Beeson dropped by Toad Hall, and found us wrapped up with the big Lighted Christmas ball, a three foot diameter sphere loaded with 1,200 multi-colored mini lights. Jerry took tons of pictures while Jonathan roped Jerry and Wes into helping us into raising the big ball. Once aloft, Jonathan's next task was to Huck Finn our News-Record friends into helping him launch three more pull lines high up in an Oak tree along Ridgeway Drive. That done, we said goodbye, set about lifting a few more Lighted Christmas balls, and had no idea where Jerry's project was going.  We saw a photo on the front page of the paper but didn't go to the website to see the slide show because we were trying to get the house decorated and get closure on some other projects around the house.  

About mid-afternoon, friends Linda and Rod called to invite us over to watch the launching of a Christmas decoration Rod dreamed up (literally).  Fortified with peppermint mochas, Rod, Linda, Jonathan and I fastened seine line, parachute cord, and one pulley to Rod's beautiful star, a five foot high three dimensional, handmade, wrapped in 800 clear mini lights.  Once launched to its full 75 feet (you can see it from Cornwallis Drive and from other points in Irving Park), I called the boys to their reward: Jerry Wolford's multi-media interpretation of the Sunset Hills Lighted Christmas balls. Jerry nailed it, it's about the fellowship, community, and sharing the abundance of our pantries with others.

Come see the lights. Bring food. Bring friends and if our front door is open, stop in.

08 December, 2009

Food Bank Service Entrance

Jonathan here: We stuck the trailer (see right) in our yard with one wheel on the curb and the other on the lawn, tilted toward Ridgeway Drive. The forecast was for rain, so friend Phil brought over their Harris Teeter tailgate tent and together we popped it up and tied it down with tent stakes. About 5:00am rain set in, so hard it woke me up.  I got up and went outside to check the trailer. Water is the enemy of non-perishable food, especially boxed cereal, rice, and pasta.  The trailer was about half full, and fortunately everything in it was still dry. I found a polypropylene tarp, lashed it over the top and sides, and went back to bed. I was so cold my teeth were rattling. 

As in years past, the majority of LCB traffic enters Ridgeway at the north (Friendly Avenue) and drives south (toward Market Street).  Three fourths of cars turn east on Madison; the rest continue to Market.  This year, in an attempt to get folks to drive the length of Ridgeway, we thought if we parked the trailer on Ridgeway that might make things easier.  As it turned out, drivers seemed puzzled when the trailer wasn't in its usual place, between the sidewalk and Madison in front of Toad Hall.  Navigating to its new location seemed hard.  Some parked alongside Madison, as in years before, got out, and walked around the corner to the trailer across from Marlene's home. Others stopped on Marlene's side of the street and walked across Ridgeway to access the trailer. Not safe.  So friends Jim and Janet offered to meet us at home after work to move the trailer to safer (and more accessible) ground. We arrived home to find the trailer, neatly and safely parked right on the curve of the corner, in plain view, complete with Harris Teeter tailgating tent tied down with tent stakes, safe and sound.  Thanks Jim and Janet.

People kept coming Sunday and Monday nights, bringing gifts of non-perishable food.  By Tuesday morning the trailer was about half full and the forecast was for rain, so before noon I stopped by, transferred bags, boxes, cans and jars to my Suburban and drove over to Potter's house.

It's been a year since I had been to Potters house. A mid-day weekday visit is as busy as it gets.  Men and women, some going some coming, some new to street life, some tired, faces worn and eyes blank; I saw a high school aged kid with a backpack and a mixed race couple. The homeless rarely walk side by side, like my wife and I do; one walks in front, the other ten or so feet behind, like a wounded person on a litter or a deer being hauled back to camp.  Truth is, they're exhausted to the point they have nothing left to give each other; couples who've lost a child feel like this.

Antonio and two other men whose names I didn't get met me at the dock before I could ring the buzzer (see sign, right).  Antonio, I learned, played football for Grimsley and graduated in 2001.  Greensboro needs more men like these men, strong, focused, servant-leaders. 

All totaled, Friends of Lighted Christmas Balls, which includes Sunset Hills neighbors and friends who attended the 7th Annual Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop, had given an abundance of nourishing, life-sustaining non-perishable food to Potter's house. 

Our goal is 10,000 pounds this year.  Help make it so.  We've got a good start, but that's where you come in.  If your life has been blessed with abundance, consider making a grocery shop using this suggested shopping list, stopping by one of several food collection points in the neighborhood, or investing cash in 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina or Greensboro Urban Ministry.  Come enjoy the Lighted Christmas Balls.  Bring your friends, family, and co-workers, and bring a bag of non-perishable food.  And share your hope with those whose hope has run dry.  Here's a map, we'll have other collection points mapped out by this weekend.

You can't read the dial on the scales just above the big box on the right.  It reads 488 pounds. 

It's raining where we live, hard.  It's 37 degrees cold.  I just went outside to check the trailer, it's already starting refilling itself.  I can't believe folks brave cold and the wet and dark of night just to put a few cans of groceries in a wet trailer.  But then, my faith is pretty small.

07 December, 2009

Lilac Drive

We saw these 5 Lighted Christmas Balls with clear lights made.  Photo looks like an Ansel Adams.  Map:

Llamas come to Sunset Hills, see Lighted Christmas Balls

Jonathan here: Mama Llama writes a blog titled Little Llamas. She's also a raving fan of the Lighted Christmas Balls. After a long day chasing her own little llamas around the house, here's how she likes to relax:

"I recommend making some hot cocoa...putting a Christmas CD on in the car...blasting the heat and rolling down the windows...and enjoy the Magic!
She authors the Little Llamas blog and you can read what will probably be the first of many blog posts and photographs right here.

I like her blasting on the heat and rolling down all the windows idea.  We did it a little differently when our kids were little.  We played a game that went like this: It's really, really cold and we're going down the road and one of us says to the other, "so, you think you can stand the pain?," and which ever of us accepted the challenge would unroll his window and stick his bare hand outside. Followed by the one who made the bet. Suffice to say that experiencing 30 degrees farenheit at 45 mph for 10 minutes and you can probably take getting your teeth drilled with no Novocain. 

Hey, Grace Community Church has about 40 Lighted Christmas Balls lit up, thanks to Allison, Clay, Gardner, Johnnie, Justin, and Scott.  Why don't you put all your friends in your car, head on over to 643 W. Lee Street, and challenge your passengers to a little friendly game of freeze your fingers off. 

02 December, 2009

More pics from Lighted Christmas Balls workshop #7

more pics from Sunday afternoon's workshop here

Kerrie Orrell has a dear friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer.  So she and her daughter set out to make a bow, cover it with pink lights, and hang it from a tree in her friend's yard. 

(Ross Martin, background, wonders if making a lighted Christmas ball while using his cell phone improves reception.)

Coming the distance to make Lighted Christmas Balls

This is Jennifer and her husband.  I can't spell his name, but it's pronounced "chess-mir." Anyway, Jennifer lives in Tampa, hangs Lighted Christmas Balls in Tampa, and visits her parents in Greensboro where she grew up.  This is maybe her third year attending the workshop.  Chesmir (sp) gets the award for coming the farthest distance to make a Lighted Christmas ball.  He's from the Czek Republic.  There area where he's from is rich in Moravian faith, history, and tradition. 

01 December, 2009

If you can't be on time, be early

My friend Buck Campbell, pictured left, was the first participant to arrive for Sunday's Lighted Christmas Ball workshop. He made four, had enough lights for more, and was one of the last guests to leave. It wouldn't surprise me to drive out to his home on McKnight Mill Road and see a dozen or more Lighted Christmas Balls. The truth is, Buck is a kid at heart, and there's no point in telling you his age because you wouldn't believe me. Buck is a member of Summit Rotary and maybe the first Chartered Life Underwriter in North Carolina.
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More photos from Sunday's party

Sunday afternoon we met new neighbors and we all had a great time making the Lighted Christmas Balls - recently referred to as a tumbleweed of wire and lights. Neighbors and folks who came to the party contributed $5080 to Urban Ministry and $1058 to Second Harvest. That's a great way to kick off the food drive. The food contributions were significantly more than in past years. Thanks to all of you who came and many of you who simply stopped by and made a contribution of food. ( Photos from Jan Lukens - on Kensington)
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30 November, 2009

On Line Photos 2009

The photos from November are online. More photos will be posted as I turn, crop, reduce size etc.

Hard at work making Lighted Christmas Balls

Newcomers and experienced Lighted Christmas Ball makers gathered side by side to bend chicken wire, push, and poke into a roundish shape. Lights go on next and voila.. all one has to do is connect the ball to power and get it into a treetop.

Now seen in Beaumont Texas - Lighted CHRISTmas Balls

We received this happy email from a new friend in Beaumont Texas on Saturday - I uploaded his photos in collage format. Nice work (is it work?) maybe we should say Nice Play! They do look terrific.

Jonathan and Anne,
I saw a link to your site on how to make the balls on
I watched the video and was so taken with the story that I had to bring it down here to the Gulf Coast.
I hope it catches on here like on your street!
Merry CHRISTmas.

--Steve Dallas Johnson
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28 November, 2009

Fun on Ridgeway Drive

When Alison Hassard said she wanted to make a potato launcher, she wasn't just kidding.  A trip to the internet, Home Depot and this is her creation.  It makes a very cool whooshing sound and as the Englars exclaimed, we can now get the string up higher than ever before and all the friends came out to play.  We now have many strings in the neighborhood.  There will be Lighted Christmas Balls up soon.  Nice Day!

26 November, 2009

Lighted Christmas Balls in Historic Charles B. Aycock neighborhood

Four generations of women bask on the porch following an awesome Thanksgiving feast.  Mamaw and Susan went back to Raleigh, Grayson went down for a nap, and Millie and Anne watched Justin and Jonathan use a super-sized slingshot to pitch an 8 oz. canvas throw bag over high limbs in one of Historic Aycock's pecan trees to pull binding twine up and over its branches before finally tying it off.  

Next steps: connect grounded extension cords to light balls, tie each binding twine "halyard" to its respective ball, hoist, and tie off. 

Last 100 visits to LCB

World map showing last 100 visits to Lighted Christmas Balls blog.  'afternoon, Australia.