By DAVID BORAKS
Davidson Housing Coalition volunteers prepared more than a thousand sets of eight luminaria – white paper bags with candles – for Saturday night’s 12th annual “Noel for Neighbors” fundraiser. In the end, they ran out. Hundreds of neighbors across town joined in, lining yards and sidewalks with the flickering holiday lights, making it the biggest night in the event’s history.
Residents put out luminaria in neighborhoods from South Street to North Main Street, Lorimer Road to the McConnell neighborhood, and River Run to Hudson Place. Newer neighborhoods got in on the act, including Davidson Point and Summer’s Walk.
This year’s celebration was the first to include The Pines at Davidson retirement community off Avinger Lane. That’s where Mayor John Woods and organizers kicked off the event, with a ceremonial lighting of the first luminaria – a decorative bag of punched aluminum made by students at Community School of Davidson.
The Noel for Neighbors fundraisers was started a dozen years ago by residents in the McConnell neighborhood off Concord Road, who wanted to celebrate and help a good cause. The event grew to the St. Alban’s community, and in 2010 Davidson Housing Coalition and dozens of volunteers helped spread it across town.
On Saturday, housing coalition executive director Marcia Webster said she was happy to add The Pines to the map. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since we had the expansion,” she said. The coalition worked with the Community Outreach Committee at The Pines to pull it off.
Committee chair Myron Chartier was helping to set things up at the main entrance of The Pines just before 6pm Saturday. “We said let’s try it. I think people are going to be pretty excited to see it,” he said.
A few minutes later, volunteers lit dozens of luminaria on the semi-circular drive leading to the entrance.
Residents of The Pines donated a total of $172, according to Mr. Chartier. Residents throughout town were invited to make a donation of any amount to the affordable housing group, and in return got a set of eight luminaria bags. Some neighborhoods raised thousands of dollars.
No total was available Saturday night, but Ms. Webster said it could top last year’s total of $16,500. She said Noel for Neighbors has caught on. “Some folks have counted it as their end-of-year contribution,” she said.
All proceeds from Noel for Neighbors benefit the Davidson Housing Coalition, a non-profit organization established in 1997 that preserves and creates safe, affordable housing options (both rented and owned), and prepares families and individuals for financial stability and homeownership. The Coalition provides homebuyer education, financial literacy counseling, job search assistance, and the HAMMERS emergency home repair program. All of Davidson Housing Coalition’s counseling services are free and available to the public.
See previous coverage of the annual Noel for Neighbors displays on DavidsonNews.net.