Candlelight for Kids event lifts spirits of patients at Brenner Children’s Hospital

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Using the glow of their flashlights, Christmas carolers sang outside of Brenner Children’s Hospital Friday night as part of the Candlelight for Kids event.

"We've had some lights shining up in the sky for the kids tonight," said Jennifer Hutchins who organized the event.

Hutchins is one of nearly a dozen people who braved the cold hoping to lift the spirits of patients inside.

"They have a lot of struggles that they're going through,” she said. “So if I can stand in the cold for an hour and make one of those little kids smile then it's worth it."

Hutchins first organized the event to draw attention to the annual Christmas display that wasn’t going up at the Hardee's on West First Street.

"For it to not be there this year, it was sad," she said.

The lights were put up on Wednesday after growing pressure from the community.

More than 3,000 people signed an online petition to put the lights up -- a tradition which goes back for decades in the city.

"I think a lot of people were disappointed,” said Dennis Swaim, a caroler. “I've lived in Winston-Salem all my life and they've been up for years and years."

A tradition Swaim, who drove from Davidson County, says is about more than just decorations.

"It's for the kids and the people in the hospital who can't be home for Christmas," Swaim said.

"It feels really special to me that I can come out here and sing for all the kids," said caroler Ava McKean.

The franchisee of the Hardee's said the lights were being fixed and cleaned up and weren't ready to be put on display.

But now that they are, Hutchins hopes that they'll spread joy to the children at the hospital who need it most.

"Give them a little light of hope," Hutchins said.

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