Even in a year with so much gloom, the Comox Valley Christmas Light Trucks campaign again brought a little more light to the community.
When Kevin and Erin Kaetler tallied up donations for the food bank this year, they had raised more than $20,000.
This year was a scaled-down version. The Kaetlers decorated the truck they use the rest of the year for their business, Strate Scapes Landscaping. They were joined by family friend Jacob Thornton and Thornton’s co-pilot Rachael McMillan in another truck for this year’s run.
Again, they drove through neighbourhoods and made pit stops in key public locations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. What was different of course was that instead of raising actual food donations for the local food bank, they were accepting donations in cash or online, with social distancing provisions in place to be in line with COVID-19 protocols, but people again responded. Businesses also wrote some cheques to help the cause.
“Words can’t explain really fully how we felt,” says Kevin. “It was just unreal every night.”
In all, when the Kaetlers tallied up the exact amount, including a couple of final e-transfers, they had raised $20,705.46.
If the process had to change this year, the effect from Comox Valley Christmas Light Trucks was also a little different, as the fundraiser earned its name more than ever. The Kaetlers could see how much more important putting things in a different light was for people in the community, as was the social contact, albeit from a safe distance.
“It was amazing … easily our favourite year,” says Erin. “A lot of things stood out this year.”
Families would often come out in their driveways in different neighbourhoods to smile and say hello, and more people went out of their way to say thanks. Others were overcome by emotion during a visit and ended up sending messages later.
“We’ve had people speechless, literally covering their mouths and not even knowing what to say,” she says.
Kids also seemed to be extra appreciative during the truck visits throughout the community.
“They look at you and they just beam,” she says.
Erin gave thanks and chronicled the almost nightly trips into different parts of the Comox Valley on the Facebook page, noting the responses from people as well as the donations as they came in.
“People were really, realling willing to give,” she adds.