The program for the Carmi Kiwanis Club on Thursday, November 14, 2019, was presented by Lance Yearby, President of the newly organized Carmi Christmas Elves Inc., a local non-for-profit community organization whose mission initially is to provide lunches for school children on weekends.
The needs to fund this program rose from Yearby’s background growing up in Santa Claus, Indiana and their annual Christmas lights program. Realizing the impact this program has had on Santa Claus prompted him to investigate a program that would work for Carmi and surrounding area. He called Amber Ackerman for input and together with Cindy Atteberry, Pam Haywood, and a host of others friends they put together a board of directors to further their cause.
The group started developing a light show to be conducted at the fair grounds during the Christmas season. Initially they envisioned 30 light displays for the drive through adventure, but with support from the community that dream has taken off like they never thought it would. The goal is to grow the project each year and make it a staple of the community. An aggressive marketing plan has been put in place with TV, newspaper, social media and other sources to inform the tri state of the coming Light Show in Carmi.
Amber Ackerman spoke of the out pouring community support to help fund the project which has raised a total of $63,405 to date from 77 businesses and/or individuals. This amount will provide for 90 different light displays at the fair ground.
The light display will start on November 29 and 30 from 6 pm to 9 pm. It will then be open every Friday and Saturday evening through the 21st and then remain on through the evening of Christmas Night. There is also a possibility the display may be open on Sunday evenings as well depending on the availability of volunteers.
There will be a suggested gate entry donation of $5 per car. This money will go toward the back pack program through the school system which provides weekly food for the approximately 130 needy families. This effort will supplement those churches and businesses presently helping to service this need to our students .Going forward this organization would like to establish a community food pantry as well.
In club business two new members were welcomed into the club by Past Lieutenant Governor, Keith Hoskins. Ricky Sauls, a Special Projects Coordinator for Southeastern Illinois College and Steven Smith, an independent financial advisor became the newest members of Kiwanis. The Kiwanis Club also made a $500 donation to the Christmas Lights of Hope campaign.