LONGSWAMP TWP., Pa. - For many, 2020 has been a year filled with uncertainty and frustration. Now, one man is making it his mission to help those fighting cancer by embracing a tradition that keeps the holiday spirit burning bright.
"It's important to give back. I know everybody is really struggling this year," said Michael Hertzog, as he walks through his front yard, lit up and adorned with Christmas decorations. “If I can make a difference in someone's life, that's why I'm doing it."
In case you couldn't guess, Hertzog loves the Christmas season and decorating his family's home at 143 Lori Lane in Mertztown, Berks County.
"I actually do it basically all myself,” he says. “I start, basically the day after Halloween it starts going up."
Michael used to decorate with his father, David, who passed away from cancer in 2014.
"I've been trying to keep the tradition going every year,” he says.
In addition to decorating as a way to honor and remember his father, this season Michael has a renewed sense of commitment. His grandmother passed away from cancer and two close friends of the family were diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
"I know COVID has been very rough on a lot of people, and I wanted to do a cancer society donation drive,” he says.
A new addition to this year's display is a donation box. Michael says he's looking to raise money for the American Cancer Society and help families in this time of need.
"People are even tighter on cash now,” he says. “Especially the ones that have been laid up from work and got the cancer diagnosis."
Michael says he knows how difficult it could be for people fighting cancer and their families. He’s looking to spread goodwill and a little holiday cheer to people who may be struggling with accessing or paying for treatment.
Anyone wishing to contribute, or just looking for a festive holiday display to get into the Christmas spirit, can drive right up to the donation box at 134 Lori Lane. Even the smallest contribution can make a big difference.
If you can't spare any cash , Michael says he'll even take holiday decorations in need of a good home.
"The first year after my dad died, it didn't feel normal; just like it doesn't feel normal for a lot of people this year with everything going on,” Michael says. “Just having that little bit of normalcy brings back the memories."