Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Luminaries to Light Food Pantry at Hunger Coalition
Kate Stone gazes into a luminary set up by her family.
Saturday, December 15, 2018


Luminaries have long been used in the American Southwest, Mexico and elsewhere to light the pathway to church for the festival of Las Posadas—a re-enactment of the story of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging.

In the Wood River Valley the luminaries, which are also known as “tarolitos” or “little lanterns,” are used to raise money for The Hunger Coalition.

Lee Dabney, who started the tradition of lighting candles for food in 2005 in her Northridge neighborhood, is at it again.

She is offering luminary bags complete with candles for those wanting to light the pathways to their homes. Each bag and candle costs a dollar and 100 percent of the money goes to The Hunger Coalition.

The bag and candle gives off a warm inviting glow, in addition to raising money to fill tummies.

“The luminaries are lit annually on the Sunday evening before Christmas—this year that is Sunday, Dec. 23,” Dabney said. “Over 13 years we’ve donated more than $20,000 to the Hunger Coalition, as people usually purchase the bags in batches of 10 to 20.”

Those wishing to take part may opt for simple white bags. Or they may choose from bags decorated with glitter designs.

The glitter bags will be decorated by the third-grade class at Alturas Elementary School where art teacher Joni Cashman uses the exercise to teach kids about community service. The kids are partnering  with the WOW program and the Hunger Coalition.

“The kids are intrigued by the project because of the cultural connection of the luminaries,” she said.

Dabney started the luminary tradition here after seeing how pretty her sister’s neighborhood in New York State looked with luminaries lining the pathways.

“I thought people might want to do this and use it to raise some funds for a good cause,” she said.

Dabney went door to door in her neighborhood the first year, her baby boy in her backpack. She sold a thousand luminaries the first year and within a few years she was selling 7,500.

She has help from friends like Ccolleen Kassner, who leads a luminary drive in Hulen Meadows, and Leah Johnson, who leads her neighbors along Hiawatha Street near Hailey in lighting luminaries.

“Lighting luminaries is a great project to do with kids,” Dabney said. “My son is now in the eighth grade and he’s grown up with the tradition. They’re a small thing but they make a big difference. And they’re so pretty.”

The luminaries are available at Dabney’s home at 620 Kintail Drive in Hailey’s Northridge subdivision. Or, call 208-578-0861.


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