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Luminaria honor loved ones, raise money for community improvement

Once again, the soft glow of luminaria is lighting up Emporia Presbyterian Manor to honor loved ones and raise money for a worthy cause.

In previous years, proceeds from the purchase of luminaria have gone toward PMMA’s Good Samaritan Program, a special fund that provides financial assistance to residents who have outlived their financial resources. This year, however, residents requested that the money raised go toward the renovation of the community’s country store, an on-site market where they can shop for small household essentials, grab a cup of specialty coffee, or even pick up a greeting card.

“The Good Samaritan Program remains one of the most important programs, but this year, after a lot of input from residents, the decision to change the focus was made,” said Sarah Oenning, PMMA’s vice president of giving. “This is our residents’ home, and we seek to honor their wishes and build a community that serves them.”

While the money raised from the luminaria serves a practical purpose within the community, those responsible for the event strive to ensure that the symbolism behind the event is what really shines through.

“Our hope as an advisory board/mission committee is that residents and community members alike can see the luminary lights shining in the darkness and feel a greater sense of connection to each other—residents to their families and the community and the larger community to members of the EPM community,” said Rev. Phyllis Stutzman, president of the Emporia Presbyterian Manor Mission Committee.

One way the committee continues to attach meaning to the event is by literally attaching a name to each luminaria that is sponsored to honor a loved one.

“Emporia Presbyterian Manor residents have shared with me how touched they are to have their names along the walk and how meaningful it has been for them to honor family and friends by contributing luminaries of their own,” said Phyllis.

Sponsoring a luminaria is also a way for individuals in the community to feel a special connection to a loved one who passed on during what can be an especially difficult time of year.

“Each year my family and children are able to visit the luminarias we sponsor at the community, and we are able to feel closer to our loved ones in heaven as we find their lights shining,” said Crystal Stock, PMMA’s regional director of marketing and sales. “It has become one of our favorite holiday traditions. Seeing the luminarias as they shine on the walkway mimics the stars in the heavens and helps us keep memories alive.”

Individuals can sponsor a luminaria for $30 throughout the month of December and everyone is invited to enjoy a peaceful stroll through luminaria lane.

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