By Erin O'Connor
WESTFIELD The Green was lit as a temporary monument on Dec. 4 when over 1,300 illuminated bags, hole-punched with the shape of an angel, created a lit trail in the center of the city.
Each year, the second Monday after Thanksgiving, the staff of the Cancer House of Hope and volunteers set out hundreds of luminaria bags that people have requested in honor of their loved ones who have had or have cancer.
"It is sad that you have that kind of response, when the numbers are that high it is a sad thing," Lauri Scott-Smith, a volunteer at the 86 Court Street house said to Reminder Publications. "But to see that people have an outlet to honor and remember somebody it brings them something," she added.
The ceremony commenced with the ringing of the church bell at 6 p.m. and followed with carolers performing from Westfield High School and hot chocolate served that was donated by Dunkin' Donuts.
Luminaria bags were sold for five dollars each and all money went to the Cancer House of Hope. The bags could be ordered up to two weeks prior to the event or at the event. Volunteers said that some people take their bags home and light them on Christmas Eve.
"Some people pay a lot more per bag or pay extra money. Some people order ten or 20 bags for the same person," Scott-Smith said.
Scott-Smith anticipated that funds from this year's event would add up to about $6,500 but said that checks were still being processed so this was not a final answer.
The setting-up process starts the Friday night before the event. A committee made up of volunteers from the House, local schools and the area go to the House and pick up the hundreds of bags and take them to the Green. Each bag is opened up and sand is put inside to prevent the bags from blowing away.
Bags are alphabetized by the last name of who it is for so people can find their bag on the Green. Bags are lit by committee members before the ceremony starts on Monday.
"The response was really wonderful," Scott-Smith said. "With any money that we raise it goes to continuing the programs. Everything that we do here is free and free for people who need it."
The House of Hope is currently selling candles made by Whip City Candle and they are working on their own "light of hope" candle.
The candles currently for sale come in two different sizes and choices of "country fresh air" or "hot butter blueberry muffin" and funds go towards the charity. For more information call 562-0110 or go to www.cancerhouseofhope.org.