By Veronica Reiner A new Shop Local initiative aims to bring traffic and sales back to Wilmot businesses during a difficult time in the pandemic, starting Wednesday, November 24th. To participate, those interested can print off a Shop Local Bingo Card online or pick one up from a participating business. The card can be filled up with stamps, obtained by spending money at (either in-person or online) or visiting, the listed businesses. Categories include restaurant, food and beverage, pharmacy, services, and more. “Shopping local in small communities sometimes means you are literally supporting your neighbour down the street, and it’s a great fun and engaging way for the community to get out and get in the holiday spirit,” said Lillianne Dunstall, who is helping to promote the event. Those who complete a line (rows of four) will be entered into the draw. There will be four winners whose names will be drawn on Thursday, December 30th. First will receive a $1,000 gift card, second will get $500, while third and fourth will get $250 each. These can be spent at one Wilmot business or many. Alternatively, those wishing to participate do not need to make a purchase; they can simply visit the store under each category in person to receive a stamp. Wilmot Stronger Together administrators are working with the New Hamburg Board of Trade and the Township of Wilmot to launch this event. Sponsorship was provided by Allan Beach Roofing, Premium Roofing, and Dressed to Deliver. “We are so lucky in Wilmot to have great businesses, but people are creatures of habit and may only patronize a few familiar places they shop or eat at,” said Dunstall. “Our Bingo Card encourages people to go out into our community and visit businesses they may never have been in and be pleasantly surprised with what they find.” The initiative started after Dunstall posted about grants the government was giving to small businesses on the Wilmot Stronger Together Facebook page. One of the administrators for that page, Stephanie Goertz, reached out. “We discussed small businesses in townships and how important and critical they are to all communities but especially rural communities,” said Dunstall. Several weeks ago, Goertz reached out to Dunstall and asked if she would be interested in helping to promote Wilmot’s local businesses for the holiday season. “I couldn’t say yes fast enough,” said Dunstall. She added it was a great opportunity to expand on the ShopLocalSanta initiative, which featured an anonymous Santa Claus visiting and supporting township businesses throughout the holiday season in 2020. Any Wilmot businesses who wish to participate can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no cost to participate.