Kensley Dalton has always wanted to #lighttheworld. This Christmas season, the eighth-grader and Beehive president hopes families in Shenandoah County, Virginia, will join her.
Light the World is a faith-based initiative that each December invites people around the world to serve their families, communities, church congregations, and the needy. The popular social media hashtag #lighttheworld helps people follow online and feel inspired by these accumulated acts of every imaginable kind of service.
Motivated by the global campaign, Dalton has launched a supplies donation drive for the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter in Edinburg. Through Dec. 21, Dalton challenges residents to bring new toys, treats, leashes, food, and cleaning and grooming supplies to her large, blue donation bucket in the front office at PMMS.
The idea to serve animals and the shelter sprang out of a recent family meeting. “Every Monday we have family night,” Dalton said. “A couple weeks ago we all watched one of Light the World videos online and it kind of hit me this would be a cool thing to do.”
With the enthusiastic blessing of her parents, Woodstock natives Chris and Penny Dalton, the self-starting 13-year-old pitched the idea to PMMS principal Morgan Saeler. As always, Saeler was thrilled to support something student-driven.
“Kensley has done an awesome job with the project so far,” Saeler said. “One of my goals when kids make requests like this is to try to help them be as independent as possible in the project — both for practical and educational reasons — and Kensley has really done a great job of using the feedback she has been given and seeking out ways to be more impactful.”
Within hours of getting the green light, Dalton designed a flier and recruited good friend and classmate Lydia Scibelli to deliver one to each classroom in the sprawling school.
“Most of the teachers were really excited,” Dalton said of the response. “Some of the students seemed excited too, and kids thought it was cool we were doing this by ourselves. And honestly some of them were not even paying attention,” Dalton laughed. “But that’s middle school.”
The energetic and effervescent Dalton has enjoyed watching donations fill the big blue bucket. Believing the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter can always use extra supplies, Dalton is excited for delivery day. “We have two cats and I’ve always loved animals,” she said. “And truthfully,” she added with a sly smile, “Sometimes they’re better friends than humans.”
Each donated dog toy or brush reminds her why the idea came to life. “Service is important because everyone needs help sometimes, even animals. And it makes me feel really good. Plus it helps me because I’m trying to do the Lord’s work.”
More than anything, what the young woman with the big heart wants her community to know is that by supporting her project, they’re not just filling a big blue bucket with supplies for the animal shelter, they’re joining millions of others this holiday season to bring hope and to help to #lightheworld.