Maya Angelou (127803)
Credit: Adrian Castillo (Flickr)

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is currently selling Dr. Maya Angelou “love lanterns” to raise money for its ambitious annual Thanks and Giving campaign.

The St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign, which is in it its 13th year, was created by the children of Danny Thomas, the hospital’s founder. The hospital teams up with celebrities, media, organizations, large retailers and other corporate partners to raise money and awareness about cancer during the holidays.

The lanterns, which all have large candles and decorative bottoms, come in four unique variations: a Christmas themed candle with red and white swirls, a fall themed light-brown candle, a white candle with sand at the bottom and a white candle with white pebbles at the bottom. Most of the purchases go to supporting the hospital.

Each lantern is adorned with a fitting quote from Angelou: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Shortly before Angelou died, St. Jude discovered that the poet had been privately donating to the hospital for years. After she died, St. Jude began to work with the Caged Bird Legacy and her grandson, Colin Johnson.

“My grandmother dedicated her life to helping people,” Johnson told the Amsterdam News in a statement. “She supported many great causes. St. Jude was at the top of that list. We are proud to continue her support of St. Jude’s mission by partnering in a meaningful way that incorporates her words of encouragement and hope while helping to raise funds to further St. Jude’s lifesaving work.” 

Representatives from St. Jude said that they were excited to work with the Caged Bird Legacy in an official capacity.

“We just started working with the foundation to find ways to use her names and likeness to support the hospital in a more visible way,” Carmen Watson, a representative for St. Jude, told the Amsterdam News in a recent interview.

The use of “love lanterns” wasn’t the first-time St. Jude has created Angelou themed items. In years past, they sold a “Maya Angelou blessings jars,” which allowed buyers to write notes or prayers to place in the jar.

Watson described the process of creating the items as very deliberate.

“We look at quotes from her together as a team and look at one that resonates with us and with the essence of what the hospital does, which is saving lives, finding cures and saving children,” said Watson.

The lanterns can be purchased from Supporters can also aid the hospital by making donations or shopping with participating businesses, such as Kmart, BestBuy, HomeGoods and New York & Company, and by making donations at the register.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded in 1962 in Memphis, Tenn. The hospital serves approximately 7,800 children with cancer yearly, at no cost whatsoever to their families, and has also been a leader in cancer research. St. Jude also provides families with long-term housing so they can stay with their children during the treatment.