CEDAR RAPIDS — Installing 5,000 Christmas lights and sequencing those to “You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch” and traditional carols proved to be more of a challenge than Tim Collins realized, but he didn’t view the project as work because it would benefit a worthwhile cause.
Collins said his family always has enjoyed going around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights, so this year they decided to display the “Collins Christmas Light Show” at their Cedar Rapids home as a way to raise donations for Mission of Hope, a faith-based organization that provides shelter, food, clothing, ministry and other support services to those in need.
Collins said Kim Reem, executive director of the mission, turned on the display last week, treating the first night audience to hot chocolate and candy canes. Several neighbors came over and there were more passersby than expected. Collins said people can tune in to an FM radio station to hear the music when they pass by the display.
Collins, a journeyman electrician, said he’s not computer savvy, so he had to learn how to use a computer program to sync the lights with the 26 minutes of music. He started working on installing the lights last January. He had advice and insight from others about the display but did all the work himself.
Collins chose to collect donations for Mission of Hope because his family has ties to the organization and has seen how the mission has helped many.
“Our family wanted to do something to give back during the Christmas season, and Mission of Hope is a perfect fit,” he said.
He started learning more about the organization two years ago when the church he attends, Victory in Grace, started a congregation in rented space at the Mission of Hope building.
Reem, who has known Collins since they were kids, said she thought this was a “creative and generous” way to give back, and she was excited that Collins chose the mission to help.
The mission doesn’t receive state or federal funding because it is a faith-based organization and relies solely on donations from individuals, private businesses and faith groups, Reem noted.
In 2018, the mission received about 36 percent of total funding from individuals; 16 percent from faith groups; 15 percent from private grants; 13 percent from foundation grants; 8 percent from businesses; and 12 percent from other means, such as rent revenue.
The light display started receiving donations that first night, and people have continued to donate each night, Collins said. The donations can be left in a large candy cane pole placed next to the street at Collins’ house. The donations are taken out each night and the total amount will be presented to the mission officials in January, he said.
Mission of Hope provides free daily meals; shelter to the homeless, those in recovery, former offenders and others in need of emergency shelter; a food pantry; jail ministry; emergency clothing; and spiritual and growth support of daily Bible studies and addiction and mentoring programs.
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If you go
• What: Collins Christmas Light Show
• Where: 57 Oklahoma Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids — donations in candy cane pole
• When: Sundays through Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays until Jan. 4.
• How to hear music: Tune in to 89.9 FM