For 17 years, Family Centers' annual Hope Lights Lives luminary fundraiser has grown to become a holiday tradition for so many residents of Fairfield County.

Each year, thousands of people from Greenwich to Weston adorn their lawns and driveways with luminaries to celebrate the season and remember those grieving a loss or coping with a critical illness.

This year's Hope Lights Lives luminary lighting will take place Sunday, Dec. 12, at 5 p.m., with a rain date set for Dec. 19.

But without the dedication of more than 500 volunteers, Hope Lights Lives might not be the success it has become. Last year, nearly 5,500 luminary kits were sold and $110,000 was raised for the Center for HOPE and The Den for Grieving Kids -- Family Centers' programs offering bereavement counseling and critical illness support. In Darien alone, 186 volunteers are helping by selling, assembling or delivering luminary kits.

"The Center for HOPE and The Den do such amazing work for grieving families and people going through a crisis," Kelly Lasko, a Darien resident and 11-year volunteer, said. "Helping with the luminary project allows me to give back in some small way. Plus, seeing all those luminary lights glowing brings the community together during the holidays."

To help with this year's Hope Lights Lives luminary campaign, contact Gloria Veeder at 203-869-4848 or e-mail gveeder@familycenters.org.

Luminary kits are now on sale at www.familycenters.org and contain 12 white paper bags, 12 tea light candles and 12 plastic candle holders. Kits are also available at Family Centers' 40 Arch Street office in Greenwich and 590 Post Road office in Darien. All proceeds directly support Family Centers' critical illness and bereavement support offered through the Center for HOPE and The Den for Grieving Kids.

Family Centers is a private, nonprofit organization offering education and human services to children, adults and families in Fairfield County. Visit www.familycenters.org for more information.