Annual ‘Deck the Halls’ fundraiser returns Dec. 8

During the time when local residents are busy stringing lights and hanging stockings, one local non-profit organization is focusing on helping homeless families in Greater Richmond.

Volunteers help construct wreaths with fresh greenery at Pine Grove Farm as part of a fundraiser for Hilliard House.

Volunteers help construct wreaths with fresh greenery at Pine Grove Farm as part of a fundraiser for Hilliard House.

Hilliard House hosts the ninth annual Deck The Halls event Dec. 8 at the Ashland Pine Grove Farm where attendees will create their own holiday decorations for one worthy cause.

“Hopefully, people are leaving with more than a wreath,” said Ross Schaefer, executive director of Hilliard House. “Hopefully, they’re leaving with an idea in their head.”

Wreaths are made with fresh-cut greenery from ferns, magnolias, pines and much more. Visitors can decorate their creations with an assortment of bows and make their wreaths look “as stunning as what you’d buy at a craft store,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said the organization’s goal is to get the word out into the community about homelessness.

The event is mostly volunteer-run. Schaefer said their support shows how committed they are to the cause.

Tickets for adults cost $30 and children ages 5-12 can attend for a $10 donation. The event lasts from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and all of the money donated will go directly to Hilliard House and their cause.

The home acts as a shelter to primarily women and children, ranging from infants to young adults, who are homeless. Schaefer said that Hilliard House’s clients come from diverse backgrounds including domestic violence and substance abuse.

Schaefer said most clients are referred to her staff by the Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ program Homeless Point of Entry.

The organization provides families with a place to live until they get back on their feet and also provides services like counseling and support.

Temporary residents are often housed for an average of 60 days, Schaefer said. At the most, families will stay as long as six months.

Two years ago, people were staying in the shelter for about a year, or so but Schaefer said that has changed because the organization is now housing individuals under the Rapid Rehousing model, which is geared toward finding homes for people quickly.

“Our work is about building neighbors,” Schaefer said.

She added that by working with others, Hilliard House is capable of assisting many more individuals in need. The home can only serve 10 families at a time. Schaefer said the rooms are set up similarly to that of a dormitory room. Every family has their own bathroom but they share a living room and kitchen.

The organization ends up helping about 60 families a year.

“Seeing someone get their own keys to their place or seeing a child get their own room when they’ve never had that before — that is why we do this,” Schaefer said.

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8:08 am