CHESHIRE — For one night every November, the streets glitter with luminary bags, signifying residents’ dedication to one another and their commitment to raise money to help those in need.
Lights of Hope has become one of the more influential charities in town since its humble beginnings in 2005. Now in its 15th year, Lights of Hope provides an opportunity for the community to embody the phrase “neighbors helping neighbors” — the organization’s official slogan.
“Last year was the first year we sold out of luminary bags entirely,” said Don Walsh, co-founder and president of Lights of Hope. “We sold the last one at Hines at around 5 p.m. (on the day of the event) last year.”
This year’s Lights of Hope event will be held on Saturday. Luminary bags are being sold at a variety of local businesses.
“We are selling them (luminaries) at Hines Hardware Store, Cheshire Nursery, Main Street Caffe and out in front of Stop and Shop,” Walsh said. “We are even doing drive through luminary sales on the Cheshire Green on the day of, which we did for the first time last year.”
This year, almost 50 thousand luminary bags have been ordered.
“This year we are projecting to raise just shy of $1 million,” Walsh said.
According to the Cheshire Lights of Hope website, the charity has sold over $700,000 luminary bags since 2005, and has raised roughly $915,000 total. All funds go to local charities, businesses and organizations.
Cheshire High School students have also become major contributors to the event, especially since a Lights of Hope club was started at the school three years ago.
“The first year the club started there were only about five students in attendance,” reported Walsh, “This year at the first meeting we had about 110 students express interest in the club.”
More recently, Cheshire’s Lights of Hope has submitted a proposal to the Town of Cheshire to rename a portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail the “Trail of Hope,” in an effort to honor the charity’s impact on the town.
This year Lights of Hope is also hosting a “Show Us Your Glow” sweepstakes, where residents can submit photos to Lights of Hope, via snail mail or email, of their luminary yard displays for a special prize — a $50 gift card to Viron Rondo Osteria on Highland Ave.