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The lights are real, but the audience was virtual

[File Photo]

Christmas Tyme in Wellesley may be much different this year, but they still lit up the tree, only with a virtual audience in attendance.

For 20 years the Wellesley & District Lions Club has held the Tree of Lights fundraiser, an event that generates holiday spirit and raises money for community programs. Normally, the fundraiser would coincide with Christmas Tyme in Wellesley, which would see donation boxes put out and a tree lighting happen after the parade alongside carolling, performances by Wellesley Idol contestants and a guest speaker who would light the tree.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic there were changes this year. Because the normal parade was put on hold, all of the usual things that precede and come after the lighting are not happening.

The Lions have adapted accordingly, said club treasurer Darrell Kirby.

“Under normal circumstances, this year being the exception, we would put boxes out for donations. This is the first year we’ve been able to do email transfers directly. Direct deposit is something we’ve worked out this year so that’s been bringing us to the current timeframe, so, we’re in the 21st century for gathering donations,” he said. “[Normally] on the second Friday of every of December, the Christmas Tyme in Wellesley would have the parade, which we sponsor. And then after the parade there would be a ceremony at the pond in Wellesley and we would officially light the Christmas tree – the lights would go up in early November, and then we would wait until that Friday to light the tree.”

Instead, the lighting was seen on social media and donations are being accepted by e-transfer as a way to not only ensure the event can still go on to support local programs within the community, but also to keep the public safe.

The event asks people to “light a bulb” in memory or appreciation of someone special. Single bulbs can be purchased for $10, a string for $25, or a bulb on a star for $50. Tax receipts are available for donations of $10 or more.

This year all money raised is going towards Meals on Wheels and the Wellesley Family Resource Fund.

The Tree of Lights fundraiser runs until the end of December. Hardy says the club usually brings in about $4,000 to $6,000 each year, and they are hoping this year to hit a goal of about $6,000.

He says with e-transfer now an option for donations, they hope to bring in more donations from the younger generations who do much of their banking online – and hopefully hit their goal.

“We want to make sure that the village knows what the club is doing to help residents within Wellesley, who are in need of assistance. That’s what the goal of our club is basically to help the local community, as to what we do and how we do it and why we do it, and to make them aware that it is available to them to access. The community is growing at a pretty fast pace and we’d like to be able to reach as many people as possible with this program, and then help as many people as possible,” Hardy added.

Donations to the fundraiser can be made through e-transfer at wellionstreeoflight@gmail.com, by mailing a donation to Wellesley Lions Club, P.O. Box 281. Wellesley ON, N0B 2T0. Additionally, donations can be made at CIBC, Pyms, Esso, Schmidtsville, and Home Hardware in the village.

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