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How this holiday spectacle is raising money for charity

Funds raised this year will combat bullying
Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-02 23:30:28-05

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WKBW) — A new record, for a good cause. Stony Brook Shines raised a grand total of $38,677.80 for this year's charity recipient, Devin's Message Foundation.

The charity is working to stop bullying. Joe and Deb Smajdor's 15 year old grandson Devin committed suicide. He was bullied in school.

"To help other kids and other families not go through what we're going through," Smajdor said.

Every year cars stop and onlookers stare at the thousands of lights on Stony Brook Drive in Lancaster. It's hard to find a house not decked out for the holidays.

"I think we have the best lights in Buffalo," said Tony Dittmer, of Kelly Ann Drive.

Stony Brook Shines Operations Manager, Harry Chomen, said people came all the way from London to this year's light festival. People traveled from near and far anxious to donate.

"We well exceeded other years, our highest fundraiser was approximately $23,000 in the past," Chomen said.

Devin's Message said the money raised will help expand them into more schools, and shine a light on the consequences of bullying.

"Very small family that we're just working by ourselves to do this, but I think this will maybe help us get a few more people involved," Smajdor said.

Stony Brook Shines for Others has lit up this neighborhood for the last 12 years, raising more than $117,000 for several Western New York charities.

"Everybody likes to give back," said Chomen. It all started after the October storms of 2006.

"My wife, she likes to give back and she had this thought that since we weren't hard hit, she wanted to do something just to give back to the community," said Chomen.

So they started decorating and collecting donations when people stopped by.

"And it all stays local, that's the part I really like about it, it never leaves this community," said Dittmer.

"This year my son will shine," Devin's mother, Antoinette Kurzdofer, said. She founded Devin's Message alongside her family.

Since Thanksgiving, $26, 021 has been raised for the anti-bullying nonprofit.

"I'm so happy for them. They really deserve it -- couldn't have gone to better people. They're going to help so many kids," Country singer, Jessie Chris, said. She sang at the check unveiling Thursday night and is an advocate for the foundation.

"I mean it's just mind blowing. It just shows that people really do care," Co-founder of Stony Brook Shines, Jennifer Chomen, said.

Lights will stay up through the New Year and the neighborhood is still taking donations for Devin's Message Foundation.

There are several ways to donate:

  • On the Stony Brook Shines website
  • Mail a donation to 54 Stony Brook Drive, Lancaster, NY 14086
  • Drop a donation at 54 Stony Brook Drive, Lancaster, NY 14086 or 4 Kelly Ann Drive, Lancaster, NY 14086
  • Checks can be made out to "Devin's Message Foundation"