Relay to help Salvation Army

Published 8:11 pm Saturday, March 17, 2012

Luminarias at least year's Suffolk Rockin' Relay for Life are lined up along the track at Bennett's Creek Park. This year's luminarias, instead of the traditional sand, will be weighed down with canned food, which will then be donated to the Salvation Army.

Editor’s Note: This is the another story in a multi-part series leading up to Suffolk’s Relay for Life on May 18-19.

Everyone knows Relay for Life as an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. But this year, it will help another segment of society as well.

In addition to raising funds for research to find a cure for cancer and support services for cancer patients and providing a way for the family and friends of cancer victims to memorialize their loved ones, Relay will help impoverished members of the community through its luminarias.

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People who participate in the traditional luminaria ceremony at the May 18-19 event, instead of finding sand at the bottom of the bag to weigh the luminaria down, will find canned food instead.

After the luminaria ceremony is over, the canned food will be donated to the Salvation Army’s food pantry to help people in need of assistance feeding their families.

“It’s another way for Relay for Life to give back to a different part of our community,” said Ginny Lee Melton, chair of Relay for Life this year. “It’s a great way to give something back in a different way.”

The food will be collected at team captains’ meetings through the Relay. The team that raises the most canned food will win a prize.

At the event, the luminarias that honor cancer survivors and memorialize those who are lost will be weighed down with canned food. The traditional tealight candle will sit on top of the can.

The luminaria ceremony occurs about 9 p.m. during the Relay. Participants purchase the luminarias for a donation and light the candle for their loved one.

“The luminaria ceremony is the most emotional part of the Relay,” Melton said. “It’s the time in the Relay where things calm down. It’s a time of reflection when you remember people who have lost their battle with cancer and think about the people who are still fighting.”

Melton said the committee is excited about partnering with the Salvation Army to help needy residents while at the same time helping the cancer society.

“We are excited about it, and we’re excited to partner with Salvation Army,” she said. “I think it’s a great thing to try, and we’re excited about it.”

For more information on the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life, click here.