Christmas Eve TV special to put Reading in national spotlight

Christmas Eve TV special to put city in national spotlight

READING, Pa. - Reading will soon be in the national spotlight.

City leaders on Thursday took the wraps off a new special that's set to air on Christmas Eve.

The hour-long program, called "One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit," will be broadcast on CBS, and although it will focus on the fact that poverty is rampant in Reading, it will mainly highlight the people who live and work in the city.

"Who, in spite of terrific economic problems, still have hope," said Rev. Eric Shafer, with Odyssey Networks. "Hope in their lord and savior, hope in God, but also hope for the future."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 41.3% of Reading residents live in poverty. That's more than any other U.S. city with more than 65,000 people.

"It's gonna be the people of Reading that's gonna make the difference and help this community turn a corner and begin to make this the place where people will want to live, work and raise a family," said Mayor Vaughn Spencer, D-Reading.

Shooting will start next month and will feature people of all faiths coming together to address the city's problems.

"We're going to show hopeful stories of people trying to make it in difficult times. We're gonna tell stories of people sharing, people celebrating their life in this place, at this time," said Shafer.

Hope Lutheran Church, the Salvation Army of Reading and local choirs will help tell the Christmas Eve story.

The Collegiate Churches of New York City provided a $50,000 grant for production of the special. The organization will also award an additional $50,000 to help fight poverty in the city.

"If people here can have hope in what's been deemed by many as a hopeless place, then we have hope around this nation and maybe even around this world," smiled Shafer.

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