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St. Croix Lutheran’s Night to Shine 2018

For the second year, St. Croix Lutheran Academy was honored to host Night to Shine, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs, ages 14 and older. On one night, February 9, 2018, 537 churches and schools from around the world came together to host Night to Shine for approximately 90,000 honored guests through the support of 175,000 volunteers!
Night to Shine 2018 at St. Croix Lutheran was an extraordinary night that brought together over 225 honored guests, their parents/caretakers, and over 500 volunteers, including students, staff, alumni, association congregation members, and community members. The student volunteers, over 250 strong, primarily served as buddies to each of the honored guests. Having the opportunity to crown each of the honored guests Kings and Queens of the prom was a true privilege. A parent of one of the guests wrote, “Honestly, I have never been a part of anythingso heartwarming in my life!!” Another mom wrote, “Please thank everyone involved for really creating memories and acceptance for individuals with special needs. It is so special that for three hours they have such positive and loving attention placed on them!”
An important goal of the Night to Shine movement is to change the narrative on how individuals with special needs are viewed. In a world where human life is often not properly valued, Night to Shine presents the St. Croix Lutheran community and students the opportunity to celebrate the gift of life in a meaningful way. Students have the opportunity to grow in empathy, selflessness, compassion while reaching out to honored guests with the message of God’s love – the message that all lives are extraordinarily important to God. 
As a host of Night to Shine, St. Croix Lutheran receives a grant from the Tim Tebow Foundation which helps offset the cost of the event. This year the Foundation grant covered approximately one-third of the event cost. The remaining expenses were covered by businesses and private donors who have a special place in their hearts for the honored guests and generously offered their services and donations. The evening is completely complimentary for the honored guests. In an effort to grow Night to Shine into an even larger worldwide movement, the grant received by the Tim Tebow Foundation decreases each year as each host takes on more of the costs. This model allows Night to Shine to grow worldwide, impacting more individuals’ lives.
Night to Shine 2018 was the perfect opportunity for the honored guests to do just that – SHINE!  As one student volunteer said, “I remember ALL THE SMILES!! It brought me so much joy to see all of the smiles on everyone’s faces.”

Blessing Bags for Christmas

As I sit down to write this article the temperature gauge on the outdoor thermometer reads -2 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m grateful to be warm and inside on a bitter cold day like this. Knowing just how blessed I am to have a warm office, a warm home, and a car that warmly and comfortably gets me from one warm place to another makes my heart go out to those who don’t have any of those warm blessings. My heart goes out to those who are on street corners with signs, all their worldly possessions in a garbage bag or backpack, begging for just a little something to help them in their poverty.
The hearts of the members of the Kelm family go out to those people as well. That’s why this Christmas season they took time out of their busy schedules to make a difference. They put together “blessing bags” for those in need. Blessing bags are one gallon freezer bags filled with items a homeless person might really need. They often contain things such as granola bars and other snacks, toothpaste and brushes, socks, and all kinds of other items. Jessica writes, “The boys got the idea after they put them (blessing bags) together at Camp Criox this past summer. After our boys attended Camp Croix for the first time this summer, they thought this would be something fun to add to the things we already do as a family. Then they were talking to their aunt about it and she mentioned their cousins did them as well and they decided how many more people could be blessed if they work together. So the charity ‘Cousins on a Mission’ was created.”
Jessica goes on to explain how the process works, “This year they decided to forgo exchanging Christmas gifts with each other and instead adopt two Senior Citizens for Christmas. They shopped together for the items they asked for on their list and delivered them in early December. They said it was one of the best things they have done and can’t wait to do that again next year, with the hopes of adopting more senior citizens. Some of them (blessing bags) will be delivered to Regions Hospital for any of the homeless that come in to be treated, they will be available for anyone who wants a few to keep in their cars and we are hoping to partner with a few other businesses to pass them out in large quantities at local shelter as well in the coming months.”
The Kelms have high aspirations for their plans to continue doing this in the future. “We would love to hear from anyone who would like to donate items to our mission or would be willing to talk with anyone who would like to start their own about how easy it was to get started.”