Throughout December, Christmas light lovers can head to Grayton Beach to partake in a popular Christmas tradition for charity.
Grayt Lights was created by Brittney Kelley, Co-Founder and CEO of Tribe Kelley, to help raise mental health awareness during the holidays by brightening up the historic beach community to spread hope, light and peace.
Kelley’s love for Grayton Beach began at a young age when her grandmother, who raised her, took her to the Florida Panhandle every summer. With Grayt Lights, Kelley hopes to share the same joyful feelings that charming community brings and to carry on a family tradition.
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Many people struggle with personal mental health problems all year round, especially during vacations. Although the season is full of joy, it can also be challenging for those struggling with stress, depression, loss, grief, or fear. Grayt Lights is a little way the Grayton Beach community can share the vacation magic and happiness with others, right in the middle of everything they are mentally going through.
“When I was growing up, my grandmother and I went out of our way to decorate our little home for Christmas,” said Kelley. “Unfortunately, she passed away just before our favorite high school vacation.
“Over the next few years I struggled to find that spirit that we both enjoyed so much during the holidays,” she added. “To keep the memory of my grandmother alive, I started hanging Christmas lights wherever I lived and hanging them all year round. The lights helped me to heal, always reminded me of them and brought me peace. “
Benefiting the Alaqua Animal Refuge, Grayt Lights is a program by Kindness Kollective that helps people through the powerful effects of animal interactions on the human mind and body. This model addresses the mental health challenges of our world today by developing a program that uses the healing powers of animals to heal the human heart.
Alaqua founder Laurie Hood discovered that people of all walks of life, nationalities and ages were drawn to what she had created in the refuge. The common thread that brought them together was the animals, but their stories were all the same.
Many people had experienced some type of trauma in their life – be it physical or mental disability, abuse, the loss of a loved one, or the fear of simply surviving in today’s world. In animals, people found the courage to begin their own path of recovery in order to improve their own emotional and physical well-being.
Voluntary donations are accepted for Grayt Lights, and all funds raised go to Alaqua’s Kindness Kollective programs. Gifts can be made via bit.ly/Grayt-Lights or via scannable links on posters around Grayton Beach.
“My greatest wish is that the lights and decorations from Grayt Lights show that there is hope and light for all of us, even as we experience darkness in our lives,” said Kelley.
This is Grayt Lights’ first year, but Kelley hopes to grow it into an annual event with even more lights and Christmas splendor