Candlelight dinner raises more than $10K for Monroe County communities


Left to right, Rosemary Munoz, Katherine Jones and Paula Jones enjoy a candlelight dinner Nov. 30 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Temperance. The annual dinner raises money for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and supports hundreds of families in the Monroe County community. 
Courtesy of Maria Esposito

Temperance — About 225 women — plus helpers — worked to raise $10,000 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Temperance on Nov. 30.

Every year since about 2006, women of the parish declare a night out for women only and bring potluck food to an indoor winter picnic featuring culinary delights ranging from meatballs, chicken salad and leafy salads to breezy desserts including cheesecake and finger food brownies.

“Last year during our annual candlelight dinner and auction, we met our goal by raising $12,000,” said committee member Bonnie Berry of Samaria, a small town just north of Temperance.

Funds from last year’s event provided for the Bedford, Erie, and Ottawa Lake communities, including about 2,000 meals for 128 families; clothing, utility and rent assistance for 87 families; medical expenses and transportation to job interviews. Volunteer members of the parish St. Vincent de Paul conference also donated about 1,527 hours of their time.

“The first three or four years supported a homeless shelter in Toledo,” Berry said. “The event started getting too large for me to handle with a small group of folks, which is when we switched to St. Vincent de Paul. I am one of three chairwomen for the event.”

Other committee members for the Candlelight Dinner and Silent Auction include Barbara Schuler of Temperance and Teri Joyce of Lambertville.

In addition to the breeziness of a summer picnic, the women who put the event together enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of the annual event.

“Bonnie and I used to work together,” said Gail Broeker of Toledo. “This is about the fifth event I have attended.”

“It is a good group,” said Kira Melman of Temperance, originally from Poland.

Fish Bowl Raffle items exhibited on the gymnasium’s stage included Waterford lead crystal; a comforter set; four Disney tickets to a corporate amusement; and unlimited car washes for one year, among other prizes.

Mom and daughter Audrey Kitzmiller and Samantha Kitzmiller, respectively, and both of Lambertville, usually attend the candlelight dinner every year.

“We missed last because it was too close to Christmas,” Audrey Kitzmiller said. “December is a busy month.”

Samantha Kitzmiller attended for more religious and family reasons: “I thought it would be fun because we come to church here and we really like church here. We want to get more involved in the fellowship and the church family.”

Sometimes, women decorate a specific table with a particular theme. “Our Heroes” was a pictorial gathering of military personnel being honored by their families. The red, white, and blue eating area was decorated by Kathy Bounds of Toledo and Lois Wesley of Temperance. Bounds is a member of Wounded Warriors.

“Those honored include members of the armed forces from World War II through Iraq,” Bounds said.  “We really enjoy doing this every year.”

A “Joy Table” — engulfed in sparkles — might have reflected a meaning of Christmas and of giving.

“I have been coming here since the beginning,” said Michelle Bork of Sylvania, Ohio. This has been a table for my friends and we always look forward to coming here every year.”

Berry, who’s been a parishioner at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel since its founding and made her first Communion at the Monroe County parish, said it’s important for the event to continue to support the community.

The small candlelight dinner first started out in a space one-fourth of a church hall, she said.

“Now, we fill a gymnasium,” Berry said. “It (Candlelight Dinner) needs to be a church and Mount Carmel event.”