MIDLOTHIAN — In efforts to brighten not only the holiday season but the dark, looming costs of college tuition and expenses, Midlothian residents Duke and Dawn Burge have annually synchronized a Christmas light show, “Lakegrove Lights,” at their house. For years, the show was at no-charge with nothing expected in return other than the enjoyment of passersby. Both are still true, however, for the first time, the couple has decided to put their show to use for a bigger picture — scholarships.
The scholarship donations will be collected on a GoFundMe account and dispersed through the Midlothian Masonic Scholarship Foundation.
As told by the its website, “Midlothian Masonic Scholarship Foundation is a Texas C-Corporation operating under IRS Code 501.c(3) as a not-for-profit entity. Although the Board of Directors is elected and appointed by members of the Midlothian Masonic Lodge, the Foundation does not require any Masonic affiliation for either our benefactors or recipients.
"Each year in January, students from Midlothian High School begin the process to request a scholarship. Scholarship amounts start at $500 and increase in $500 increments. The number of scholarships available each year are determined by the funds generated by the Foundation through various fundraising and investments activities.”
Lighting up the night sky is not exclusive to Christmas, as the Burge's home lights up for Christmas and Fourth of July.
“Each year we go all out for the two holidays. I do a large fireworks show for the Fourth,” the official pyrotechnician certified Duke Burges said. “We have been doing our Christmas light show for about 15 years now. We have added new decorations and music to it every year, and we like to change things up.”
At their home, visitors are welcome to tune into a radio station that plays the synchronized music with the decorations.
“This year we are playing the 'Wizards of Winter' and one other song by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 'Let it Go' from 'Frozen,' the Alvin and the Chipmunks song, 'The 12 days of Christmas' by Straight No Chaser and one other,” Burges explained.
In addition to the new music, LED lights have been put in place of the initial rope lighting and a sign explaining the donation procedure to onlookers.
“We put up our decorations two weeks before Thanksgiving this year, but didn’t turn them on until Thanksgiving night,” Burges states. “It takes about a day and a half to put all of the decorations up. By the time Christmas week rolls around we will see hundreds of cars come by at night.”
The scholarship offered to MISD students does not require a Masonic affiliation of any sort.
“We have over $100,000 in our foundation fund that we get through fundraisers. I do the Christmas lights anyway, so I thought this was a good way to go about raising money. I did this same thing in July and made $2,000 for the fund,” Burges said.
According to their GoFundMe website, “As a Foundation, we pride ourselves on the fact that we have zero operating expenses. All of the donations go directly to the Foundation fund for scholarships. Each year, the Foundation awards 10-20 scholarships ranging from $500 to $3,000 to Midlothian students.”
For more information about the foundation or the light show contact Duke Burge at 972-938-8087, ext 10. or visit www.msftx.org. The GoFundMe account is accessible at https://www.gofundme.com/lakegrove-lights. Donations of any size are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.
Kelsey Poynor, @KPoynor_WDL