Benchview Equestrian Centre is looking for cast members to star in Away in a Manger, a live Christmas experience it is offering.
It is providing an opportunity to make Christmas memories with a drive-through nativity scene that is being organized to support for three local charities.
Organizing it are Pat Darte, Melina Morsch, whose goats and donkey board on the Benchview property, and Jane Neaves, who spearheaded the idea as a way to provide Christmas gifts for kids in the pediatric cancer ward at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton.
Neaves began collecting gifts several years ago for kids who must remain in the hospital over Christmas, and saw that organizing an event was a way to grow the project that means so much to her.
Darte has the space on his Queenston Road property, and got onboard to raise funds for a cause that’s important to him: youth mental health, through the Niagara Community Foundation Darte Family Fund, which is part of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Fund he established during his term as lord mayor.
The third recipient is Newark Neighbours. Those who drive through to view the nativity scene are asked to bring non-perishable items for the local food bank.
The organizers are hoping to attract businesses who might sign up to be cast members, as a team-building exercise, or instead of the Christmas party they aren’t able to have this year.
It could also be fun for families, church, kids or service groups — any organization that wants to have some fun with its members while doing some good in the community, says Morsch.
Each time slot for the nativity scene requires cast members to play Mary, Joseph, three wise men, two angels, and a drummer boy, and each team must supply their own costumes, for a cost of $200 to participate. There are time slots for 10 teams.
Coffee, tea and doughnuts will be provided.
It will be done safely, with physical distancing, and for those who drive through to see it, there will be music, lights, goats, Jenny the Donkey, and lots of Christmas spirit.
They won’t need to get out of their cars, and there will be someone on hand to safely accept toys, food or cash for the three charities.
“We’re going to have fun with it,” says Morsch. “Everyone is welcome.”
They are hoping for a donation per car of $10 to $20, and there are sponsorship rates for businesses who want to support the event.
The fundraising event runs Dec. 19 and 20, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For sponsorship opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate online to the Niagara Community Foundation Darte Family Fund, go to https:// niagara communityfoundation.org/dartefamilyfund