Donna Lentini Scheibner of Stillwater died on Sept. 28, 2014, following a courageous battle with a long illness. She was an enthusiastic and dedicated fitness professional who offered her services through R&T Nautilus, a gym in Newton, and in homes around the area. The Light Your Life With Love Christmas Tree Lighting was created to recognize the beautiful and inspirational person she was.
The annual tree lighting went on despite Covid, held at R&T Nautilus last Friday night. Scheibner’s daughters, and other members of her family and community, came together to honor a compassionate and loving woman who left this earth far too soon.
“With the pandemic and the weather, we knew we had to make some safe changes to accommodate our crowd, but still wanted to keep our tradition going,” said Nikki Morville-Brand, one of Scheibner’s daughters.
So they decided to have a candlelight car/tree service.
“We safely delivered candles to everyone’s cars, played ‘Silent Night’” — instead of the customary Fredon School choir, because of Covid — “and lit our beautiful tree,” Morville-Brand said.
Anyone who wanted to come out and stand distanced and masked by the tree were welcome to do so. Sure enough, a full parking lot of cars filled with family and friends came out to show their support in a season of hope.
“This year looked different, but 2020 wasn’t stopping us,” said Heather Davey, an integral part of the charity, Benny’s Bodega, and an R&T Nautilus employee. “The parking lot was filled with people sitting in there cars, showing their support while staying safe.”
Amid a cold, light rain, people honked their horns and yelled “Hooray!” when the tree was lighted.
“The tree represents so much to so many,” Morville-Brand said. “The tree lighting isn’t just about our mom, it’s about all those who have lost loved ones and want to honor them. My sisters and I are so humbled by the love and support of the community.”
The event is staged by Robin Ball, social worker Benjamin Davey, and Theresa Dicks of R&T Nautilus in conjunction with Scheibner’s daughters, Nikki Morville-Brand, Meredith Morville-Reilly, and Ali Ball.
Donations of cleaning supplies came in for Benny’s Bodega, a non-profit that distributes basic necessities to families in need of support. Davey created the Bodega (unofficially) in March 2017. Benny’s Bodega became an official nonprofit, registered with the State of New Jersey and the federal government in May/June 2019, and has been operating as such since. To become involved or make a donation, visit bennysbodega.com.