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CBS to shine Christmas Eve spotlight on Reading's hope for future

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 23 2012 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 24 2012 05:08:03 PM CST

Reading is a city fighting against violent crime and a high poverty rate.

READING, Pa. -

Reading is taking on a starring role this Christmas Eve.

Producers at Odyssey Networks are not dwelling on the city's problems with crime, poverty and drugs. Instead, they are shining the spotlight on hope and how people are helping each other during tough times.

You will hear the sounds of the season, and see a snapshot into a small American city that is showing the true meaning of the holidays.

"One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit," will air at 11:35 p.m. Christmas Eve on CBS.

"When they put it all together, it's just a beautiful story from start to finish of how people in tough situations can really be inspired," said Rev. Mary Wolfe, pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Reading, where most of the program was filmed.

The hour-long special is about goodwill. The New York City-based religious media coalition focused on the good things happening in a city not willing to give up.

"It's coming in and simply saying that we are a community that has hope there's something better going to be happening," said Mindy McCormick, director of social services with the Salvation Army in Berks County.    

Producers felt the location, Hope Lutheran Church, was ideal and aptly named because through all the struggles, Reading never lost hope or the power of community.

"We're hoping that folks will simply be inspired and know they can just keep soldiering on, and that it's going to get better," said Wolfe.

 The Christmas Eve special features music, stories of people living in Reading today and a gathering hosted by the Salvation Army. It's a program that promises to be a unique and joyous celebration of Christmas.

"We're showing that if we continue to grow together, and we continue to have passion and vision, that's going to happen and we can change what happens here," said McCormick.

The program will air commercial-free in David Letterman's slot.