Nonprofit prepares for light show, shopping event benefiting local kids | Features

For FrankTown Open Hearts, the vacation season is a time of neighborhood and repair, and the native nonprofit is nearly prepared for the neighborhood to affix in on two of its annual Christmas occasions. 

This yr, FrankTown Open Hearts, a nonprofit that mentors and teaches varied life abilities to Franklin’s at-risk youth, is holding its third annual Competition of Lights and its seventeenth annual Christmas procuring occasion. 

The Competition of Lights is a drive-thru occasion on the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Heart, the place households can view holiday-themed mild shows from their autos and have the chance to take their image in entrance of a 30-foot Christmas tree whereas sipping on some sizzling chocolate on the finish of the drive. 

Festival of Lights

Reindeer give Santa some assist snowboarding ultimately yr’s Competition of Lights.  

“It’s a COVID-friendly occasion, and hopefully it’ll get folks within the Christmas spirit,” mentioned Chris Barnhill, govt director of FrankTown. “All people’s going to be masked and gloved, and you may get some sizzling chocolate and a Little Debbie snack cake or a MoonPie or no matter. Get your image made in entrance of the tree. Hopefully, it’ll be a enjoyable occasion simply to get out of the home.” 

Tickets for the occasion are $25 per automobile and could be bought on-line at or on the gate. The occasion will run from 5 to 9 p.m. at this time via Dec. 26. 

This yr, all of the proceeds will profit FrankTown’s constructing fund. The nonprofit usually runs its 35 packages for youth in varied church buildings and buildings, however for the reason that begin of the COVID-19 pandemic, its entry to those services has been restricted, inflicting the group to considerably pare down its programming. 

Whereas a traditional yr would come with lessons for stitching, woodworking, cooking, fishing, management, religious growth, music, performing arts, automotive mechanics, lecturers and extra alongside alternatives for journeys throughout the nation, the group is restricted to seven packages, as it’s functioning primarily at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ. 

Barnhill mentioned that it is vital that the nonprofit continues to supply at the least some programming as a result of 55 of FrankTown’s households make lower than $15,000 per yr, and life throughout a pandemic appears to be like very completely different for them than it does for a lot of prosperous Williamson County. 

FrankTown kids in Santa hats

FrankTown Open Hearts college students put together for final yr’s Christmas season with Santa hats atop their heads.  

“They don’t have disposable revenue to take guitar classes, to take golf classes, to play video games on a pc. They don’t personal a pc. They don’t have WiFi. They don’t personal an Xbox or GameCube. They will’t go to the mall. They don’t have disposable revenue for that. Their household doesn’t even personal a automotive,” Barnhill mentioned. “It’s vital for us to present these children constructive, instructional and vocational actions to do as a result of I assure you, children will discover one thing to do, whether or not it’s wholesome or not.” 

The group has a objective of elevating roughly $2 million for a facility out of which it may well function its packages and proceed to serve the neighborhood. 

Only a couple weeks after the beginning of the Competition of Lights, on Saturday, Dec 12, volunteers will collect at ClearView Baptist Church at 9 a.m. for the Christmas procuring occasion. About 100 FrankTown college students will every be given $150, and volunteer households will take the scholars looking for Christmas presents for his or her households. Every group then returns to the church to wrap the items, and the scholars obtain meals packing containers to take residence for a Christmas feast. 

Barnhill mentioned that not each FrankTown scholar qualifies for this occasion, solely those that have earned their $150 via neighborhood service, participation in FrankTown packages, good conduct and energy at school and extra. 

“It’s such a rewarding, enjoyable exercise. It’s additionally nice for the FrankTown children as a result of, granted, they’re not likely prosperous, however they’re bringing residence this huge bag full of all these items for his or her household that they purchased with cash that they earned. It offers them a way of pleasure,” Barnhill mentioned. 

He mentioned that whereas the children had been allowed to purchase themselves a present final yr, the crew might discover solely six of about 100 children who purchased something for themselves. 

Barnhill mentioned that volunteers are nonetheless wanted to assist with each occasions. To be taught extra or to enroll to volunteer, go to

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