The curtain is about to go up on an act of charity in Lehigh County. The Christian youth theater group Players of the Stage is performing "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" this holiday season. All to help a local non-profit.

The lights are on and the mics are hot. Now all they need is an audience. For the last three months two casts have put in a lot of hard work rehearsing their roles in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

"She's a bully and she doesn't really fit in with everyone around her because she kind of antagonizes everyone," said Mara Weigner of her role in the production.

The actors are ages 5 through 18, and organizers want the youth to have a purpose beyond themselves.

"I just think it's a really good opportunity for these young kids to be able to do theater that's family friendly and that pushes them to be excellent," shared Artistic Director Sharon Gerdes.

Every time the curtain rises the kids are acting for a good cause, shining the spotlight on a local charity. For 12 years Players of the Stage has been performing benefit shows.

"I think it's a wonderful thing to start young people when they're young to learn to give back," smiled Production Manager and Owner Elisabeth Barshinger. "That they're here not just for themselves."

Admission is free but cash donations are collected. The group says every cent earned goes to a chosen organization. During the past five seasons the group has raised more than $50,000.

This run of eight shows will benefit the Allentown Rescue Mission. Last year $11,000 was raised for the Mission; this year they're aiming at $15,000. The good will is not lost on the young cast.

"Makes me feel pretty good because I'm helping people who need help," said 11-year-old Harrison Kirschbaum.

"Jesus can change everyone," added Weigner. "And even if you're young you can really make a big difference in someone's life."

Performances kick off Thursday and run the next two weekends. The shows will be held at the Living Hope Presbyterian Church on Shantz Road in Lower Macungie Township. Show times are Nov. 29, 30 and Dec. 6 and 7, at p.m. And Dec. 1 and 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For more information, visit www.playersofthestage.com/default.html.