The passing of Gavin Krum, the courageous teen who succumbed to leukemia in late November, has been a difficult loss for the Lehighton area. So many have sought to support the Krum family, who are also still grieving their older son, Dylan, who died from a different illness in 2010. Combine these two losses with the horrible massacre in Newtown, and it can feel like the dark is closing in all around.
One small group of youth are seeking to bring light into darkness, one candle at a time.
The idea started with Haley Moyer, a freshman at Lehighton Area High School, who asked her pastor, the Rev. Chris deForest: "Can we do something?" Her thought was to raise funds for "In Dylan's Arms," a local charity started at Zion UCC Church in Lehighton to help families like the Krum's - those with very sick or terminally ill children. Haley suggested that the collection taken up for the church's Sunday School Christmas pageant be given to the cause. They ended up raising over $300.
This success inspired the St. John's youth to do more. Their new idea: create homemade luminaries, invite people to sponsor each light for $5, and display them along the sidewalks of the church on Christmas Eve. All the proceeds would go to "In Dylan's Arms." Even though they only had eight days, they jumped in, setting up a table after worship on Dec. 16. They got 23 sponsors that first Sunday morning. From there, it's taken off: as of this writing, they have over 70.
The luminaries will go out for the 6:30 pm service on Christmas Eve at St. John's Lutheran Church of Mahoning, 826 Mahoning Drive West in Mahoning Township. Even if you worship somewhere else, the youth of St. John's invite you to drive slowly by their church on the eve of Christ's birth, and even in the midst of darkness, see "a great light."