PINCKNEY – When St. Mary Pinckney’s annual Christmas concert was postponed due to the pandemic, parents and parishioners decided to do their part in overcoming the gloom of 2020.
Through the work of volunteers and support from donations, they created “All Roads Lead to Bethlehem,” a drive-thru, live nativity production and light show that exceeded expectations drawing hundreds of cars and raising thousands of dollars to help provide scholarships to families in need.
“Around 100 cars came through each night with multiple riders, putting our estimated reach at nearly 1000 people, said St. Mary Principal Veronica Kinsey. “When we made $900 in the donation buckets that first night, we were ecstatic. When we made $1300 the second night we were really feeling the support from the community,” she added. “People needed this. They were thanking us from their cars!”
During a year when countless events and traditions were cancelled, parents planned this production as a way to let students have some fun, share the meaning of Christmas and bring hope to the community. The $2300 raised by free-will donations will help make it possible for students to attend St. Mary who otherwise would not be able.
Rosemary Gass, a St. Mary parishioner and long time producer and director in Southeast Michigan and Pinckney High School, was reunited with two of her former drama students on the “All Roads” production team, both are now professionals and have kids at St. Mary. An outpouring of donated Christmas lights and decorations came in from school families and parishioners along with costumes from Pinckney Players and live goats from a parishioner’s farm. B&W Tree Service, Inc., a local tree trimming company whose owners are members of St. Mary, even came to decorate the 40-foot pine tree and put a star on top.
“Volunteers who collaborated for this all echoed that it was fulfilling to give back and spread peace,” said Kinsey. “Even during the busy Christmas season, they were thanking us for the chance to work outside in the cold! Very fitting for the story of Christ’s birth, we are still on a journey to find light during dark times.”
St. Mary’s annual Christmas show is traditionally a musical produced by the eighth grade class. This year St. Mary seventh grader Isabella Wittrup wrote the playwright for the replacement show, which will be performed via video this month. The title: “A Covid Christmas.”
The response to the live nativity was so overwhelmingly positive St. Mary is considering making their Plan B, the Plan A for next year. Anyone interested in donating outdoor, light-up Christmas decorations instead of putting them in storage can email the Parent Teacher Council any time this year at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of the growing national trend to leave Christmas lights up through January or February to brighten winter lockdown months, they don’t have a cut-off date for donations.
And if you donate during the dark days of the Covid winter, it may just make you feel a little lighter.
“To truly celebrate Christmas is to laud what the Bible says in John 3:19, that ‘the light has come into the world,’” said Father Dan Kogut, pastor at St. Mary. “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem he fulfilled the words of Isaiah written 700 years earlier, ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined’ (Isaiah 9:1-2).”
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