The Christmas spirit is expected to burn brightly Saturday as the Paradise and District Lions Club sparks up the Tree of Light in St. Clements for the 11th time.
A popular annual fundraising event for a variety of causes, this year’s celebration will benefit the Hospice of Waterloo Region’s new facility in Waterloo.
“The people of St. Clements and surrounding community are very generous,” said Tree of Light chair and Lions member Janet Pfaffinger. “This year particularly, they were interested in giving to a hospice – specifically the one that will be in North Waterloo. There are different hospices in Guelph and Cambridge and the east end of Kitchener, but we don’t have one in North Waterloo. So the community was very responsive to giving to this charity.”
This allows the community to get into the generous spirit of the holiday season early on. The proceeds have been given to different projects every year. Previous charitable efforts went towards a park pavilion, as well as the Arthritis Society and the Cystinosis Awareness and Research Effort.
Lighting up a bulb costs $5, and purchasers can dedicate their bulb to honour an individual or in memory of someone. Dedications will be read aloud at the ceremony. Alternatively, $50 lights up a string of bulbs, and any amount over that will light up the star.
“I can tell you at this point we are in line with what we sold last year for the number of bulbs,” said Pfaffinger. “We have a little over $10,000 raised at this point.”
There will also be a brief speech by locals Bill and Gert Gies, who have previously donated $2.5 million toward the construction of the Hospice of Waterloo Region Gies Family Centre. The facility was thus named after the family for their substantial donation.
Built near RIM Park on University Avenue, the 25,000 square foot facility will feature a 10-bed hospice space, education areas, and a palliative care clinic. It is expected to be finished in late 2019. Executive director at the Hospice of Waterloo Region, Judy Nairn, will also be in attendance, and there will be a cheque presentation.
“Santa Claus is going to be there,” added Pfaffinger. “He’ll be there at 5:45 p.m. – the event begins at 6 o’clock, but he comes a bit early because Santa needs to go to a few other places on Saturday evening.
“He’s a very busy man this time of year.”
There is also musical entertainment by the St. Jacobs PS choir and a local student who is a participant with the Glee Club. Coffee, hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and cookies will be served to attendees. Pfaffinger is encouraging the community to come out to this family-friendly evening.
“If people have some ideas of where they would like the money to go next year, they could let us know,” she added. “We might have 10 or 15 requests, but we’ll pick a suitable one.”
The Tree of Lights ceremony is scheduled for December 1 at 6 p.m. just outside the St. Clements library. Bulbs can still be purchased until tomorrow (November 30) at various businesses around town, including Creative Hair Works, My Sisters Kitchen, Exotic Wings and Pet Things, In Season Home and Garden, Kate’s Hair Den, and Styled by Lori.