Update: Christmas Lights Display Smashes Fundraising Record!


Wow! The Severns-Pease Christmas Display obliterated its previous fundraising record, taking in more than $84,000 between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in donations for a local food bank. Last year the display raised nearly $55,000. Dave Severns is of course well pleased that they were able to break the $80,000 goal he set for the season.

I wrote about the display back in early December . Severns and his neighbor Andy Pease have been putting up the joint display since 1995, with each year getting a little more elaborate than the next. When Severns computerized the display in 2002, hundreds of people started flocking to see the magical show of lights and music. Some people suggested they charge a fee, but they decided instead to collect money and food for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

As Severns’ own chart shows, the donations have increased every year. With this year’s smashing fundraising success, it puts the display up with large corporations who have collected a million pounds or more worth of food for the food bank.

It will be interesting to see what goal Severns sets for next year. In the meantime, congratulations to neighbors who made a big difference to the local community!

Continuing King’s Legacy All Year: Take the MLK 25 Challenge


After last week’s sadness over the violence in Tucson, it was good to watch thousands upon thousands of people pour their hearts into service yesterday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am one who believes the good news far outweighs the bad, if we pay attention. Yesterday was a day to pay attention to the people who are committed to their communities, and want to leave a positive stamp on those communities.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the people behind the National Day of Service have come up with a terrific way to extend the day into a whole year. The Corporation for National and Community Service is challenging all of us to commit to 25 acts of service in 2011. It’s called the MLK 25 Challenge. From simple acts like donating to  your local food bank, to more involved things like becoming a mentor, anything that helps make your community a better place can be part of the challenge.

If you’re scratching your head for ideas, the organization’s website has a handy checklist to get you started. See this blog’s posts from last month, when I listed 30 ideas for being a good neighbor at the holidays and beyond.

The group is encouraging anyone who takes the challenge to post their actions throughout the year on Twitter, using the #MLK25 hashtag.

Although the focus is on the Day of Service here in the U.S., Martin Luther King Jr. transcends this country. Anyone, anywhere on the planet could participate in this challenge. It would be amazing to see a Twitter feed with thousands of posts from all over the world, marking acts of kindness done in memory of MLK.

To help me remember the challenge, I’ve posted a sticky note on the side of my computer screen that says “#MLK25”. I’m starting with a small goal of remembering to take reusable bags to the market. Another small act I realized I did yesterday: I momentarily helped a neighbor try to locate a missing pet. Little things, I know, but sometimes when we start with the little things, it leads to bigger actions down the road. I like to think that even a small act, like a small raindrop in a pond of water, sends out ripples far beyond what we may even realize.

Yesterday I posted my favorite King quote:

“Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Think of each act of kindness – no matter how small – as a light against the darkness. When thousands of us shine our lights of love together, the darkness cannot triumph.

What about you? Will you take the MLK 25 Challenge? What ideas do you have to help others this year?

“Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate” – Martin Luther King Jr.


In honor of Martin Luther  King Jr. Day, I offer one of my favorite MLK quotes from his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community:   

“Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

When I think of what Rev. King and his contemporaries accomplished by combating hate with love, I am in awe. Our basest instincts when hurt are to lash out. But King, who drew upon the teachings of Jesus, called all of us to a higher way of living. He asked us to love, even when love seems like a ridiculous response.

What I love about the quote, is the contrast between dark and light. Violence and evil exist in darkness. Love shines a light on evil, exposing it for all to see, and allowing us to stand up to what is wrong in order to bring about what is right.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share the love light that shines when people help others, making this world a brighter place. We all have the capability to make the choice for love, not hate. By sharing stories of that love choice, it’s my hope we will all be inspired to make a similar choice in our own neighborhoods and communities.

The Christian Science Monitor is featuring a list of 10 favorite MLK quotes today. One quote talks about “good neighbors” so I had to share it here:

“The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers.” – Strength to Love

What are your favorite MLK quotes? Share them with us! Also, if you are doing anything in honor of today – like participating in a special service event, or just your own special action – please share that, too.



Happy New Year!


Here’s wishing a happy and healthy 2011 to all our good neighbors!