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Salvation Army illuminates Kroc Center to bring 'message of hope' to Omaha

Salvation Army illuminates Kroc Center to bring 'message of hope' to Omaha


Thousands of patriotic lights are illuminating the Salvation Army Kroc Center in South Omaha in an effort to boost community spirits as Nebraska enters the toughest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Salvation Army and Heroes Holiday Lighting collaborated on the project, and on Monday night, they flipped the switch on the display at the recreation center at 2825 Y St. The Kroc Center is encouraging its neighbors to turn on porch lights this week, or even put up holiday lights, and keep them on through at least Sunday.

“The Salvation Army has always had a message of hope, and right now, doing anything that brings hope makes you feel good,” said Capt. John Gantner, co-executive director of the Kroc Center.

He said the lights at the Kroc Center will be on through at least the end of April.

Others have been installing holiday lights to boost spirits. Minden, Nebraska, turned on its popular display for about a week, and a number of homeowners in Minden and communities across Nebraska have put up holiday lights.

People are used to dealing with illness, or even death, with the flu, Gantner said. But what is so stressful about the coronavirus is the uncertainty, he said: How bad will the situation get, when will the economy recover and jobs return, and when will schools open?

“The need for light and hope has never been greater,” he said.

In discussing the holiday lights, Gantner evoked the Salvation Army’s Christian foundation and cited the Bible, specifically, John 1:5: “And the light goes on shining in the dark; it is not overcome by the dark.”

Heroes Holiday Lighting donated the lights and the labor in putting them up, co-owner Taylor Olberding said. “The lights help families take their mind off of current events, even for a little bit,” he said. “(They) remind us that by everyone working together, we will get through these tough times to better days ahead.”

Omaha World-Herald: Afternoon Update

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Nancy Gaarder helps cover public safety and weather events as an editor on The World-Herald's breaking news desk. Follow her on Twitter @gaarder. Email:

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