Tree decorating contest benefits counseling center

Entry deadline is Thursday, trees to be on display beginning November 21

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Flash Staff Report

ERATH COUNTY (November 12, 2016) – Deck the Halls with…. funding for Compassion Counseling Center.

Spreading peace, comfort and joy is at the heart of the holiday season and is also ingrained in the mission of the counseling center. The Stephenville-based nonprofit organization offers assistance to individuals and families struggling with mental or emotional issues and provides that support regardless of income or insurance coverage.

To help, Tarleton State University’s Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center is hosting the Deck the Halls Tree Decorating Contest and Silent Auction in conjunction with the annual Cross Timbers Civic Choral and Fort Worth Symphony’s production of Handel’s Messiah on Saturday, December 3.

The effort calls on the participation of individuals, groups and businesses to decorate trees up to six feet tall to be displayed in the fine arts center beginning Monday, November 21.

Participants are required to submit and entry form and pay a $40 fee. Entries must be submitted no later than Thursday, November 17. Forms can be found on Deck the Halls event page on Facebook and can be dropped off along with registration fees at TexasBank, Fraser Agency or Fraser Wilson & Bryan PC in Stephenville.

Trees must be decorated and delivered no later than November 21.

The Christmas trees will be judged by an independent panel with awards being given for the most creative/original, the best theme, as well as the most holiday spirit and visual appeal.

To increase funding for the counseling center, the trees will be put up for auction, with the highest bidder winning the right to display the tree at the location of the choice alongside any awards it received.

About the nonprofit organization

Compassion Counseling Center has accrued more than 1,600 hours of counseling to area residents, while also helping counseling students finish degree requirements since opening its doors about 18 months ago.

“Compassion is ‘filling in the gaps’ where other organizations are unable to help because of cost or grant restrictions,” MaryAnn Arnold, secretary of the organization’s board of directors, said. “We have seen lives changed positively because of Compassion, and we believe that is valuable to Stephenville. Since we are new, funding is scarce and clients often can’t afford to pay more. We rely upon donations to cover what the fees do not.”

According to the organization’s website, the idea of spreading hope across the local community was born of a local tragedy, the suicide of a young woman just prior to the start of her college career in 2013. While the community wondered how her inner struggle had gone unnoticed, leaders at Oakdale United Methodist Church wanted to help prevent similar tragedies in the future.

A church member who received her master’s degree in counseling from Tarleton State University knew capable student counselors often had difficulty finding local agencies and centers where they could complete a 320-hour requirement for counseling clients. She also knew some mental health providers didn’t have enough hours to serve their clients – some were not being seen as often as they should have been for optimal care and others couldn’t afford to get the services they needed.

Dr. Donald H. Lane, a professor, agreed to help establish a counseling center within the church. Compassion Counseling Center welcomed in first clients in January 2015.

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