Three recipients have been chosen to share the proceeds from this year’s Candlelight Stroll on Dec. 2.
The main beneficiary will be Ceto Reid, a migrant farm worker from Jamaica who was injured when he was hit by a car while riding his bike in St. Catharines last month.
He will receive half of the proceeds raised from candle sales.
The stroll also will donate 25 per cent of candle revenue to the Farmworkers Hub and the remaining 25 per cent to Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Community Palliative Care agency.
Riding in a horse drawn carriage, Reid will start the stroll and will lead thousands of people around historic Old Town.
The stroll begins at the old Court House at 6:45 p.m. with a ceremony as thousands of people fill Queen Street.
The crowd then winds its way through Old Town, singing carols and listening to choirs, bands and musical acts along the route.
“It was an overwhelming decision to honour and recognize Ceto and give the majority of the funds to him,” said Andrew Niven, chair of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Chamber of Commerce and Tourism NOTL, which organize the stroll.
This is the first time the chamber has honoured three recipients, he said.
Chamber president Minerva Ward noted, “It is my first year hosting this heart-warming event and I am pleased to be part of a community that celebrates the holiday season with such a generous spirit.”
“This is an important event that raises funds for worthy causes in our community and I thank the residents and business community for opening their hearts to assist,” she said.
The community has really rallied together for Reid since he was hurt.
Kathy Brown, manager of the Avondale in Virgil, has been raising money in her store for him.
The money from the stroll will help Reid with any costs that come his way while he recovers.
“I think it’s two months that he has to go waiting for some benefits to kick in,” said Julia Buxton-Cox, founder of the Farmworkers Hub.
“So this really helped with the income that he’s lost and the fact that he’s staying on longer than expected,” she said.
Buxton-Cox is excited that the Farmworkers Hub is also being supported by the stroll.
“We’re absolutely honoured to be chosen as one of the recipients,” she said.
The chamber has been extremely supportive of the hub and the work it does for farmworkers, she said.
The money raised from the Candlelight Stroll will go towards the hub’s operating costs in 2023.
“So that we can continue to do what we do and offer clothing and household goods and hopefully food next year at no cost to seasonal workers,” she said.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Palliative Care offers many programs for its clients and the stroll donation is most welcome, said executive director Bonnie Bagnulo.
“Every cent that we receive to this service stays in this service,” she added.
Bagnulo was thrilled when she found out the agency was one of the recipients.
The candles cost $3 each, and will be sold between 3 and 8 p.m. in front of the Court House and at stalls between King and Regent streets.
Another tradition of the Candlelight Stroll is a food drive for Newark Neighbours. Donations can be dropped in bins at Fort George or in front of the Court House.