Angels were among us on Second Friday

By on November 16, 2016
 (Left to right) Kathy Blankenbiller, Bob D’Imperio, and Derek Hummer are working to raise funds for the new inclusive playground. Photo by Laura Knowles


(Left to right) Kathy Blankenbiller, Bob D’Imperio, and Derek Hummer are working to raise funds for the new inclusive playground. Photo by Laura Knowles

Angels were in abundance at Second Friday in downtown Lititz.

They glittered and sparkled in the chilly night air as they set out to raise funds for a new playground, help youngsters with life-threatening illness realize their fondest wishes, and herald the true meaning of Christmas.

Fundraising for the inclusive playground, to be constructed at Warwick Township Linear Park in the spring, got off to a strong start Friday night at an unusual display next to Wertsch Vision Associates on East Main Street.

There, two sets of colorful angel wings — one for grownups and one for youngsters — were painted along the wall by members of the Lititz Art Association, providing an inspiring photo opportunity for everyone who made a contribution toward the new playground that will allow children with disabilities to play together with all their friends.

The Angels Among Us display was a big hit for the Yee family, who were visiting from New Jersey. They come to Lititz every year to shop at Wilbur Chocolate and see the sights of one of their favorite small towns.

“We were surprised that Wilbur had moved, but relieved that the new shop has lots of chocolate,” said Lily Yee.

While visiting, the Yee family discovered that Friday was Second Friday in downtown Lititz, so they decided to join the fun. Their son Matthew enjoyed having his picture taken with the huge angel wings. When they found out what the wings were for, they dropped off a donation for the playground.

“When we come back next year, it will probably be built and we will be happy that we helped,” said Yee. “And Matthew will get to play there.”

Kathy Blankenbiller was one of the angels behind the playground. She was joined by representatives of the Lititz Ambucs, which is spearheading the drive to build the playground. Organizations and individuals lending a hand and donating toward the cause include ASAP, artists Beth Brunner and Donna Felton, Chroma Acrylics, Generation Partners, Lititz Area Kiwanis Club, Lititz Cares, Lititz Ministerium, Lititz Rotary, Lititz Sign Company, Lititz Woman’s Club, Venture Lititz, Wertsch Vision Associates, and the Young Men’s Business League.

“This is something we have been dreaming of for months. We just needed to find the right place. Now that we have it, we are raising money to build it,” said Blankenbiller.

That right place is the linear park along Market Street. Last week, Warwick Township supervisors approved the project. The integrated playground for special needs children will be located next to the existing play area, offering a variety of fun equipment such as giant chimes, a glider that would accommodate children using wheelchairs, and swings with safety harnesses.

To install the park, the Ambucs will need to raise $80,000. The Second Friday event marked the kick-off of the fundraising campaign.

“It won’t be a separate playground only for children with disabilities,” said Derek Hummer of the Ambucs.

The Lititz Ambucs is part of a national charitable service organization, known for its support of the local ambulance and programs to help provide mobility and independence for people with disabilities. They provide AmTrykes to children with special needs and scholarships for future therapists.

Hummer said they hope to raise the funds and have the project completed by Mother’s Day in May of 2017.

Alyssa Weaver of Grace Church was another “angel,” sharing news of the third annual Community Christmas coming up on Dec. 3. As Weaver explained, the community event is meant to share the true meaning of Christmas with families.

“A Community Christmas will be held at Grace Church at 501 W. Lincoln Ave. in Lititz,” said Weaver, adding that the free family event will feature live music, movies, refreshments, crafts, prizes, and an appearance by St. Nicholas.

One of the main features of the event is a wagon ride that will take guests through a history of Christmas past with vignettes that end with a live nativity signifying the birth of Christ.

“The vision for the event came to chairman Ed Hartmann during the Grace Church annual Easter Egg Hunt,” explained Weaver.

After talking to several children and adults, Hartmann was inspired to host an outreach event in the church for the community during the holiday season. He wanted families to spend time together, experiencing the “reason for the season” in a safe and friendly environment.

Weaver and other members of Grace Church shared information about the Community Christmas during Second Friday. Families can register online for the event at meetgrace.org or at the door that Saturday afternoon.

Just up the street, dozens of dancing “angels” were strutting their stuff on the Sutter patio. The area was adorned with twinkling lights as the young dancers from CoJoMotion Dance Company provided a sneak peak of the 12th annual “A Season for Wishes” benefit show, set for Dec. 3 at the Manheim Township High School auditorium.

The performance will benefit children with life-threatening illnesses, allowing them to have a special wish through the Make-A-Wish foundation of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more details, contact CoJo_Wishes@lititzacademyofdance.com.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story ideas at lknowles21@gmail.com.

 

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