30 January, 2016

I wish I could describe it to you

Lots of folks know the lighted Christmas balls are just about spheres of chicken wire all lit up and suspended from trees, neighbors helping neighbors, neighborhood  food drives, turning strangers into friends, gathering around fire-pits and greeting all the passers by, interspersed with the best 5K in the world. All of those perceptions, and more, are real. And it's a sort-of periscope to the World to show that community really works, which in internet shorthand looks like #communityworks, #placemaking, #hungerhurts, #foodinsecurity and #LightedChristmasBalls. 

Other things happen behind the scenes that help keep the lighted Christmas balls running. Like checking on a handful of food collection depots and utility trailers to see if it's time to pack it up and make a run to the food bank. And chasing down produce managers at grocery stores to score a ton of sturdy cardboard boxes so that the volunteers can pack up the food. And then there's somebody always running out to the food trailer late at night gathering up boxes of cereal, mac-n-cheese and anything else that could ruin, schlep it into somebody's dining room for the night to protect it from the rain and sub-freezing temperatures - and believe me, this was the rainiest December/January on record. And then then there's an early morning or late afternoon meeting of volunteers to sort and stack 900 pounds of canned goodness. nourishment into cardboard boxes, hoist them into somebody's pick up truck and drive this week's haul to the food bank. And then there's a bit of paperwork, transcribing pounds and dollars from another weeks outpouring into a shared Google worksheet.

But somewhere near the winding down of this year's food drive, mother nature dumped a record amount of snow, ice and slush onto two tailgate tents, and they collapsed in one ugly pile of twisted aluminum legs and canvas. See pictures below.

And so while we were waiting and waiting for the snow to melt, Anne ordered two brand new tents (they arrived yesterday) and we looked forward in earnest gladness to this weekend's sunshine, and to getting out and cleaning up the biggest eyesore Sunset Hills has ever seen. As Friday wound down, Daniel called to say UPS had just delivered the new tents. And just as Anne and I were drifting off to sleep, she mumbles, "Oh, by the way, somebody came by yesterday, took down the wrecked tents and took them to our trash cans, arranged the Adirondacks and stacked the camp chairs AND put up a new tent. 

This whole season, the lives of our friends, neighbors and us have been on the giving end, and it's filled our hearts to overflowing. And today we got to be on the receiving end.  I wish I could describe it to you.  This picture will have to suffice. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  

Anne & Jonathan

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28 January, 2016

Links to TODAY show clips and running of the balls (drone)

Click on these links below to see the December 2015 NBC Today snow footage +
Video of the Run via Drone.





WVA Extension service Posts from December

When the NBC editor finalizing the story on the Lighted Christmas Balls of Greensboro, she asked if we could put her in touch with other communities who had not only embraced the beauty and community aspects of the Lighted Christmas Balls but also focused that effort on the Shine the LIght on Hunger campaign.  The folks at West Virginia University immediatedly came to mind.  This is an email form the folks in Morgantown WVA to NBC.
We didn't collect money but rather collected specific items for the Backpack Project in Monongalia County. We selected just one of the sites that collects food for the backpacks (Scott's Run Settlement House -, but there are others in this county. They like items that are easy for kids to fix for themselves and filling. 

Yesterday, I delivered 647 servings total of fruit cups (168), mac & cheese (140), spag/rav (130), and oatmeal (209) to Scott's Run Settlement House. It was humbling to see their operation and to get a greater understanding of the need in this area. Hopefully, this will become an annual event, and we can collect more. We might even be able to have a competition between the various colleges here on campus next year!

We had two workshops in my building and made at least two dozen lighted Christmas balls. Over the past few years, I've done workshops in the county where I live (Harrison) and have collected food for the local food pantries in my area. I don't do anything on the scale that the Smiths do in Greensboro, but maybe someday we can make a larger impact on the food pantries and the backpack programs. I'm fairly certain I have some more photos from other workshops if you need more. I attached one from the second workshop, and the FB post has pictures of lighted Christmas balls and the collected backpack food. 

At home, I have about a dozen lighted Christmas balls hanging in a tree below our house, and it is a nice conversation starter to make others aware of the dire hunger situation in our county, state, and nation. I think most people in our rural area know, but many times they don't know how they can help. Our church is one of many local churches and other faith-based organizations that support the backpack program. (My husband is originally from Greensboro, and my sister-in-law took me to see the Smith's neighborhood, and I was hooked on how beautiful they are and what they stood for to ShineTheLightOnHunger!)

I am happy to help you in any way I can to help spread the word and to help people understand how they can help provide food and support to those in need. Please let me know what else I can do, OK?

Thank you so much and I hope you have a great day, Becky

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27 January, 2016

Port Huron Photos

These photos were taken in December 2015 from Port Huron MI.  Teri Nelson, a neighbor in Sunset Hills, introduced her mom and dad (Joan and Larry) to the Lighted Christmas Balls in 2011.  They returned to MI and shared the idea with their neighbors.  Each year they have a workshop and make more lighted balls.  It is too cold there for an ongoing food drive so they are hoping to figure something out  to have their own Shine the Light on Hunger.  In the meantime, it is a lovely town and a very handsome display.

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06 January, 2016

Good News

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Good News 

Many of the Lighted Christmas Balls are still up in Sunset Hills.  

They will begin to come down here and there as people get busy with the new year but we will leave ours up at the corner of Madison and Ridgeway 
until January 31 for your enjoyment

You have been so generous with your food and monetary donations.  

The Shine the Light on Hunger effort so far has brought in 


18,915 pounds of food

Please consider dropping off a couple of cans 
sometime this month to help us reach 10 TONS