West Salem couple brightens yuletide nights to help abuse survivors

It's a chance to bring the kids and dog and savor some holiday spirit while making a difference in the lives of domestic and sexual-abuse survivors.

A couple in West Salem have uber-decorated their home with bright lights and Christmas trees and they’ve synchronized a playlist of music to accompany the lights so folks driving past the display can enjoy a festive musical light show.

On any given night, Jon Dunsmore and his girlfriend Casaria Taylor get about 10-15 cars slowing down to look at about 10,000 lights connected by about 1,000 feet of extension cord and listen to the couple’s playlist of about 25 songs (about an hour’s worth).

Passersby are then encouraged to make a donation of non-perishable food, household items and cash or gift cards to benefit Salem’s Center for Hope & Safety, a nonprofit that exists to assist survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, many of whom escape dangerous situations with only the clothes on their backs.

It’s a frolicking good time for a deserving cause.

The Dunsmore and Taylor families have been decking the halls for eight consecutive years now although they had to forego physical donations to the nonprofit last year amid Covid-19 concerns. But the light and music are back again this year, and all donations collected will benefit the Center for Hope & Safety at year’s end. The families are hoping folks will continue to be generous with their donations, and that the word will spread so more folks come out to see the lights and listen to the music.

“My goal is to make more people aware of who the Center for Hope & Safety is, and even if only for a month of the year try to encourage people to support them because what they do for people who seek help from them is amazing,” Dunsmore said.

New blankets, pillows and sheets, gift cards and cash are needed as always. And cash donations help survivors purchase exactly what they need as they start over, said Jayne Downing, executive director of the Center for Hope & Safety.

She said the center is continuously humbled by the generosity of the Dunsmore and Taylor families and said their collected contributions have been very helpful to the center in past years.

The nightly show began the day after Thanksgiving this year and runs nightly through Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve.

The lights are turned on at 5 p.m. and stay on through 9 p.m. each evening. Motorists are reminded to tune their car radio to the station frequency of 88.9 FM to enjoy the music. Songs are added to the playlist periodically. “It grows each year,” Dunsmore said.

The families have a Facebook page where folks can learn more about the effort. The Rock ‘n’ Roll for Hope musical light show’s Facebook page is at Facebook.com/holidaylightfun. The Center for Hope & Safety’s website is at hopeandsafety.org.

Included on the center’s list is a pressing need for gender-neutral, nonviolent toys, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, and modeling clay such as Play-Doh. Also needed are baby wipes, disposable diapers, Pull-Ups (training underwear), children’s Tylenol and bottles of Pedialyte (rehydration drink), sippy cups, and umbrella strollers.

Cherriots (the Salem Area Mass Transit public system) bus passes, Regal movie theater, Target, Walmart, Fred Meyer, hair salon, McDonald’s and Safeway gift cards are also urgently needed. These items help families as they re-establish and learn to live independently in new homes. When donating nonperishable food items such as dry cereal, be generous and tuck in some powdered milk, so families can enjoy the cereal with milk that does not require refrigeration.

Other new items that are appreciated include coats and fleece jackets (all sizes), paper towels, first-aid supplies, hair-styling tools and products, underwear and bras, bandages, deodorant, and towels, facecloths and can openers.

The Dunsmore and Taylor families are grateful for the donations that have filled the collection barrel to the brim on more than one night and they will continue to spend the extra time and money to put together their holiday light and music display. They hope the neighborhood generosity continues as well.

The couple love having a way to teach others about the true spirit of the season of giving. It’s also an easy way for their neighbors to help their Salem community as well.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll for Hope musical light show that benefits the Center for Hope & Safety runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31 at 2225 Woodhill St. NW, Salem, OR 97304. Find them at Facebook.com/holidaylightfun

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