While ’tis the season for volunteering and helping others, one group of volunteers at the annual Festival of Lights always spends their Christmas doing just that.
This year, a group of parents, staff and students from Oak Hall Episcopal School spent Christmas evening at the festival, raising money for their organization and the Parks and Recreation Department.
Kristin Littlefield, an administrative assistant at Oak Hall, said she’s been volunteering for at least 13 years at Festival of Lights. She said some volunteers were returning, while others were there for the first time.
“This is our third night,” Littlefield said. “You can either choose one, two or three. This year, we did not get a weekend night, there are only so many.”
Nonprofits draw straws to determine who gets what nights. Littlefield said this year there were about 13 organizations that participated. The school selected December 5, December 10 and Christmas, but finding volunteers for the holiday was somewhat difficult.
“We’re hoping Christmas will help, but it was difficult to find people to volunteer tonight,” Littlefield said. “If it had been Christmas eve, I probably would have had to forfeit.”
Money raised is split between the volunteering nonprofits and the Parks and Recreation Department, which uses the funds for next year’s festival. Littlefield said the school will use donated funds in their operating budget rather than using them for a specific event.
“It is literally to pay bills and salaries,” Littlefield said.
The school also holds an annual auction and dinner fundraiser in January.
Janice Curtis said her grandson has already graduated from Oak Hall, but she’s a frequent volunteer and all-around fixture at the school. She said this is her first time volunteering at the festival.
“I’m a long-time volunteer at the school,” Curtis said. “My grandson is 19, but he started as a three year old at Oak Hall.”
Curtis said that she frequently brought her grandson through the festival when he was young.
Aidan and Addison Wheeler, who are both students at the school, volunteered with their family at the festival, handing out candy canes and wishing people Merry Christmas as they drove through. They said their whole family comes out to support the school by volunteering.
Abi Holland, whose daughter attends Oak Hall, said she and her husband volunteered at the festival for the first time this year.
“This year, Kristin said that she needed volunteers,” she said. “I knew we couldn’t do the 5th, so we figured she needed them more on Christmas than anything.”
She said she’s been an avid classroom volunteer since her daughter started at the school last year.
“We want to be involved in our daughter’s school,” she said. “We want her to know her parents are there to support her, the teachers, the faculty, and that they have our full backing.”