Deno Hicks Jacksonville Luminaria
Deno Hicks

Deno Hicks

Deno is the President of River North Strategies.

Light Up Jacksonville and The Lives of Special Needs Adults

A group of specially-abled adults come together during the festive season to convert bags with flat bottoms, premium sand, and votive candles into lighting or luminaria kits at a small workshop in the southside of Jacksonville. The luminaria kits are going to light up the entire section of the city. The specially-abled adults are proud to become part of the holiday tradition of the city every year.

Michelle Cook who is 56 years old and contributes to the creation of luminaria lights says that when she is putting candles in the box, she likes the fact that these are going to light up people’s homes in the city.

The workshop for the creation of such lighting kits is situated at Pine Castle –a life and work-skill activity and training center for adults with developmental and intellectual differences. Some adults are known to get job opportunities at the area businesses. On the other hand, there are others who work for on-site assembling & packaging for the business or across several product lines for Pine Castle like the stakes for construction, survey companies, and the festive season luminaria kits.

Cory Clarkson –Business & Employment Placement Officer, says that as you would walk into the Pine Castle workshop, you can see the participants working so hard. This naturally brings a sense of pride and smile onto your face. The participants at the workshop are known to bring a sense of energy into every light for the entire city. Moreover, the ongoing development project ensures ample opportunities to every participant that they otherwise might not have been able to create for reaching their highest potential.

An Insight into the Luminaria Lights

White luminaria lights or bags are known to contain a small-sized candle given proper anchor with the help of sand. These have been traditionally used for lighting and decorating pathways, walkways, porches, or entryways during the holiday season. The Pine Castle project is 25 years old and is capable of selling around 4,000 kits on an annual basis along with for $10 a piece. Every kit features 12 white-colored, flat-bottom bags along with 12 white-shaded votive candles. Moreover, there are two premium sandbags in addition to the photograph & story of the client who has prepared the given kit.

The clients who participate in the Pine Castle program are hard workers and very diligent people when it comes to creating and assembling every kit. The participants take great pride in ensuring that the specific roles in the given process are implemented correctly while understanding that it is important to produce the complete kit to ensure the overall success of the team. The rewards for these people are available not just with the respective paychecks, but also with the smile they bring to the entire community with the attractive lights. Like others, they also want to earn money for taking care of their respective needs.

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