First Posted: 12/12/2009
Hope was on display at the First Baptist Church of Mount Airy yesterday.
More than 290 nativity scenes were the official attraction at the display No Room at the Inn, appropriate given that the Christmas story is about hope for the world.
The display, which was also open on Dec. 5 at the church, also is about hope for cancer victims, growing out of one familys attempts to deal with the disease striking one of their youngest members, Cody Kirsch.
The youth, now 6 and cancer-free for four-and-a-half years according to his mother, Crystal Kirsch, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, when he was a toddler. The diagnosis resulted in Cody losing his left eye, but the results could have been much worse, according to his grandmother, Sue Krepps.
The pressure on his eye was so great, she said. They told us if we hadnt taken him in when we did, it (the cancer)….could have spread.
From that tragedy the family has made it their mission to raise money for cancer research and for the Durham Ronald McDonald House, where families visiting town for cancer treatments can stay.
Not long after Codys diagnosis, many of his relatives formed The Cody Kirsch Family Team for Relay for Life as their way to support and honor cancer victims. Like many Relay teams, the group takes part in activities and fundraisers to raise money for cancer research.
Three years ago Sue Krepps said she thought about combining one of her hobbies collecting nativity scenes with her passion of raising cancer research money.
Ive been collecting nativity scenes for about 15 years, she said. I read where some teachers out in California showed nativity displays as a fundraiser. I brought the idea before the Relay team and they liked it.
This is the third year her collection has been on display, attracting interest and donations of nativity scenes from people all around the region. There is no charge for people coming in to see the collection, but monetary donations for the Relay team are accepted.
Krepps collection stands at 296 nativity scenes of all sorts and shapes. They are made of ceramic, wood, pewter, cloth, and a host of other materials. Some are painted scenes rather than stand-up pieces, one is imprinted on a necktie, another on a flag. One is in the form of a cookie jar, others made of glass. One of the collections is so larger it fills most of a table, another is so small one can easily hold it in the palm of a hand. One collection features characters from the popular inspirational comic Veggie Tales, another is inside a snow globe.
More than three dozen people visited the display yesterday, and others from First Baptist are expected to do so today after the morning service there.
Weve not had a lot of people come out, but those who have said they really enjoy it. Hopefully, it helps people remember the real meaning of Christmas.
And maybe it will help to give others cancer victims, or anyone facing adversity hope, when they see how one family has turned tragedy into something positive they can share with others.
John Peters is editor of The Mount Airy News. He can be reached at [email protected]