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The Gift Of Giving For The Holidays

A North Massapequa family continues to send out massive seasons greetings this year with an array of twinkling lights, carolers, reindeer and even Santa himself — all in an effort to raise some funds and the Christmas spirit.

This is not the first year the Oemcke house at 186 N. Syracuse Ave. has kept the block well lit during the holiday season. Steve and Carrie Oemcke have always had an affinity for Christmas decorations, but they kicked the yuletide into high gear about three years ago and have expanded their display exponentially with each Christmas.

The Oemckes knew the display would attract many onlookers, so they decided to use their holiday house to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Visitors to the house can walk up the driving, and after viewing the reindeer stable and the Claus’ living room, they can drop some donations in a charity box.

“We knew a decent amount of people would come by so it’s a great opportunity to make it charitable,” said Steve Oemcke, adding that their donation goal this year is $5,000 — which would give them $10,000 in funds for St. Jude’s in three years. “I build it up to make it worth it for people to get out of their car and walk up to the donation box.”

Oemcke said he chose St. Jude’s because it is a reputable organization and people can trust that the money they donate will go to the young people who need it most. St. Jude’s works to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.

Grateful for his own childrens’ health, Oemcke said a Christmas display is the perfect way to help sick children on Long Island and beyond.

“This is a holiday for children,” he said. “There are sick kids out there and we want to help them. All the people that come to see the house see the St. Jude’s banner. That is everyone’s favorite charity; it is the one they want to give to during Christmas.”

Oemcke’s own children — Hannah, 13, Jake, 11, and Steven, a second-grader — have helped the decorating tradition plenty over the years, with young Steven getting involved for the first time this season. He helps his dad monitor the traffic flow, figuring out the perfect time to shut down the display for the night.

The decorating process starts in bits and pieces just before Halloween, but once Oct. 31 passes, ghoulish get-ups give way to festive cheer. And though some might think all of those wires and bulbs jack up his electric bill, Oemcke said he recently switched to LED lights and other energy-saving set ups.

“If anyone does this and it’s costing them thousands of dollars in electric every month, they should think of switching over to cost effective lighting, because that is nuts,” he said.

And even though setting up the lights, then taking it all down again can get arduous, Oemcke said he’s reminded of why he does it whenever a school bus passes by his house.

“The kids get really excited to see it,” he said. “That’s the fun part of it.”

To check out the Oemcke’s holiday house and to donate to St. Jude’s, the lights stay on until about 10 p.m. on weekdays and around 11 p.m. on weekends.