It's the final chance to support the second Share the Light initiative to help support New Hampshire's foster children.

Supporters buy a luminary bag on Share The Light's website, sharethelightnh.com, and then select a merchant as a pickup site with 100% of all sales proceeds going to the New Hampshire Foster & Adoptive Parent Association.

Share The Light has a goal of raising $10,000 this year.

The program was born during the 2020 Christmas shopping season as a way to bring shoppers into local retailers stressed by the impact of pandemic restrictions on their business, a pent up desire by the community to do something positive and a foster care system strained by all the implications of lockdowns and quarantine, Wes Dillon of the Four Rivers Project told Seacoast Current.

"Everything culminated the last Sunday at 5 p.m. when everyone lit the luminaries.  Since we couldn't get together in large groups in downtown celebrations and tree lightings or anything like that this gave across the region a way to celebrate, feel together but not be together in a large group," Dillon said.

The luminaries will be lit this year on Sunday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. There also be a display on Share the Light's Facebook page.

(Share the Light)
(Share the Light)
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Restrictions Eased but the Need Remains

Even as restrictions were eased for schools and children returned to classrooms more children were in need of care because there were more "eyes" able to observe those who may be in need.

"There were kids in school, there were kids in different programs that the adults were then able to see 'are these children safe? Is life good? How are things going?' Executive Director of New Hampshire Foster & Adoptive Parent Association Mariellen MacKay told Seacoast Current. "The numbers of children coming into care goes up and that puts more pressure on an already overburdened system."

MacKay said the NHFAPA is giving out more grants because families need to be able to not only support their children but they're supporting the children they're caring for in their home.  That includes grandparents exhausting their savings to provide care they didn't anticipate would be needed.

"They're taking in their grandchildren and they're saying 'we don't have a bed. Can you help us? We're not prepared at our age to be raising little children again but this is my grandchild. '" MacKay said.

Over 100 requests were received for holiday gift grants this season, up from a normal 5-10 requests.

"While this program leads with the heart it meets a real concrete need," MacKay said.

Share the Light display at the Freedom Cafe in Durham
Share the Light display at the Freedom Cafe in Durham (Wes Dillon)
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100% For the Kids

Dillon said several donors have stepped up to cover Share The Light's backend expenses so 100% of every dollar goes towards NHFAPA grants.

"We have a whole team of volunteers that takes care of everything on the backend from setting up the bundles, delivery, promotion, the team that's doing all the social media. Everything is set up to put 100% of the funds back into helping the vulnerable kids," Dillon said.

The businesses, municipal departments and local nonprofits partnered with Share the Light this season include:

  • Celebrate Durham
  • Durham Business Association
  • Newmarket Business Association
  • The Parks & Recreation department of Durham
  • The Newmarket Recreation Department
  • Local nonprofits, The Four Rivers Project and The Freedom Cafe
  • New Hampshire Foster and Adoptive Parenting Association

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

Portsmouth's Neighborhood Holiday Lights Contest 2020