HARVEYS LAKE — More than 300 biodegradable lanterns were sent to the heavens Saturday evening with messages of hope, prayer, dreams and celebration.
The second annual Huntsville Christian Church “Lanterns of Hope” event was held at the Harveys Lake Beach Club with proceeds going to The Hope Center, a free clinic on Carverton Road operated by Ron and Suzanne Hillard.
Sherry Jenkins coordinated the event that included food, beverages, live music, bake sale, basket raffle and the Hillside Ice Cream truck. Each lantern cost $5. Jenkins said volunteers decided to send a lantern up in memory of Ron Hillard’s father, Louis, who died Sept. 17 at age 97.
Pastor Pat Colladay of Huntsville Christian Church said the lantern launch offered participants an opportunity to express their hopes in a sharing manner.
“Hope is here,” he said. “I look at it as prayers being lifted up to God. There’s a lot of emotion here. Everybody needs hope.”
Lynn Rave helped Jenkins plan the event and she was sending up a lantern in memory of her father, Pete Biscontini, and her in-laws, Barbara and Bob Rave. On her lantern she wrote, “Miss you every day.” She said that when the lanterns go up — most were launched around 7:30 p.m. — everyone could look to the sky and see hope rise.
“People have many reasons to launch a lantern — loved ones, battles with cancer, cherished pets,” she said. “And it’s easy to get enthusiastic about a good cause like The Hope Center. They don’t turn anyone away.”
Ginny Major of Dallas said her lantern would send a message to her mom and dad, Erma and Robert Culp.
“It just says ‘love ya,’ ” Major said. “I know my dad is up there fishing. It’s really nice to see the community come together for a good cause.”
Annette Devaney’s lantern carried a message to her late husband, Marty, that said, “You can come home now.” Devaney liked the idea of attaching message to the lanterns.
“It’s sending prayers to God,” she said. “It’s very emotional.”
Messages included: “Dear God, I wish you could heal my grandma,” and “We miss you.”
Deidre Miller Kaminski sent lanterns up for her mother, father and grandparents.
“My mom passed away when I was 5 and she was 35,” Kaminski said. “My grandparents raised me along with my dad, who would have celebrated his birthday today.”
Hillard said the event is about more than the money raised.
“It’s about getting people to come together to reach out to their loved ones and to make a connection,” he said.
The Hope Center offers free medical, vision, dental and chiropractic care as well as free legal advice and counseling services. The Center is staffed solely by community volunteers including medical and legal professionals and every effort is made to utilize existing community resources.
For more information on The Hope Center, go to: email@example.com.