OLEAN, NY -- This year’s local observance of the Worldwide Candle Lighting, in memory of all children who have left  the world too soon, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Olean First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 133 S. Union St.

Parents, grandparents, siblings, families and friends who would like to honor the memory of a child who left too soon are invited to bring photographs or mementos of their children to display during the memorial service at First Baptist. Candles will be provided for everyone to light. The program will include music and poems. Children’s names will be read to coincide with the lighting of candles at 7 p.m. Anyone who would like to participate in any way is encouraged to do so.

Believed to be the largest mass candle lighting in the world, this event organized by the Compassionate Friends takes place annually on the second Sunday in December. Candles are lighted at 7 p.m. in every time zone, and as they burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe.

Sign Up for E-News

Beth and Kathy Boser, the mother and grandmother of Noah Boser, who died in 2002 at the age of 7 months while in the care of a local daycare provider, have organized and sponsored the Olean ceremony since then.

It has been said that whether a child died recently or years ago, those left behind feel the loss in their hearts forever. The Bosers, like other sponsors of local candle lighting ceremonies, believe others might like to join them in memory of children special to them.

"The children we mourn have died at all ages and from many different causes, but our love for them unites us," wrote Kathy Boser in a press release. "What better tribute to Noah and the other children in our communities who we so sorely miss?”

In coordination with the candle lighting, a tree near Santa’s mailbox in Lincoln Park, across from the church on South Union Street  has been decorated in memory of children gone too soon. People are encouraged to come throughout the holiday season to place memorial ornaments on the tree.

Olean area persons needing additional information or who wish to register the name of children they would like remembered, should contact Kathy Boser at 716-904-1838 or e-mail her at kboser@sbu.edu.

Family members and friends from other areas who may want to participate at locations near them should refer to the website https://www.compassionatefriends.org/event/22nd-annual-worldwide-candle-lighting/, which maintains the database of candle lighting ceremonies in the United States and all around the globe. Anyone unable to attend an organized event is encouraged to light a candle at 7 p.m. in quiet remembrance wherever they may be.

The Compassionate Friends is a national nonprofit, self-help support organization that offers friendship and understanding to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. The organization has no religious affiliation and no membership dues or fees.