Lighting the way: Children’s Parade of Lanterns helps homeless

December 2018 Posted in Community, People
The inaugural Parade of Lanterns will use battery operated light sources, not candles or lit flames. © Tatyana Tomsickova /

The inaugural Parade of Lanterns will use battery operated light sources, not candles or lit flames. © Tatyana Tomsickova /

By Melissa Wagoner

“Silverton is the town that still believes and I think children remind us of this,” Michele Finicle said.

Finicle was referencing the Tree Lighting event that takes place in downtown Silverton every holiday season – which brings out the child in many – but she was also speaking to the spirit of neighborliness and care that she sees taking place in her town every day.

“The Tree Lighting is one of my favorite Silverton events,” she said. “I love how neighbors gather with neighbors and we all share in that special moment. For me, I wanted to hold on to that feeling a little longer.”

What she came up with was the Silverton Children’s Lantern Parade, which will be held as an extension of the Tree Lighting to raise money for the Silverton Warming Shelter.

“Lantern parades are popular all over the world, and in Germany they host the St. Martin Lantern Parade to celebrate Good Samaritans,” Finicle explained. “Silverton is a special place full of Good Samaritans who are lights in dark times for others. I like to think we are honoring them as well. We wanted people in our community who are homeless to see the town light up for them, to communicate that we care and that they deserve the warmth and light of shelter. Altogether, it felt like a natural fit for our beautiful town.”

Finicle is Secretary and Development Director of Silverton Sheltering Services (SSS), a nonprofit developed in January 2018 to oversee the Warming Shelter. She will be joined by fellow volunteers as well as Father Christmas and head elf Bernie at 3 p.m. under the Coolidge McClaine Park pavilion to hand out hot cocoa and cookies and to tell stories. The group will also oversee the decorating of special lanterns.

“Parents may purchase a lantern to decorate at the pavilion for $5 and all proceeds go toward the warming shelter,” Finicle said. “At 6 p.m. we will line up near the pavilion for the procession. The Christmas Angel will appear to give a special holiday message and lead us in song. Then the parade will cross over the bridge, go through the park adjacent to the library, down Water Street’s sidewalk, and finally over the covered bridge into the park for the Tree Lighting.”

As well as raising awareness of the unsheltered population of Silverton – who struggle the most during the winter months – members of SSS hope to raise funds to extend the hours of the Warming Shelter – which was previously open only during the coldest temperatures – to seven days a week Thanksgiving through February.

“The shelter provides warm beds, meals, case management services, shower and laundry vouchers, hygiene kits, warm clothing, sleeping bags, and more,” Finicle listed.Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 11.55.54 AM

“With the help of a grant through ARCHES, we were able to start this process but it will not be sustainable without donations and volunteers. We really believe that as a community, we have the power to take care of our neighbors so no one feels the trauma of sleeping outside during the winter. The donations from the lanterns will go toward providing that care.”

Along with the Lantern Parade, SSS will also be holding a Light the Calendar Challenge in the hopes of funding all 125 days that the Warming Shelter will be open this winter.

“Shelter one night’s bed and meal for only $10, or a whole week of shelter and meals for $50,” Finicle encouraged. “We hope to fill the calendar with both supporters and volunteers. We all have hopes that it grows into a tradition and is just one more reason to love Silverton.”

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