Starry Nights festival raises money for People’s City Mission


Photo by Audrey Perry

LHS seniors Nyayaang Luak (front) and Crystal Mann (back) volunteer at the ornament decoration station at the Starry Nights Tree Festival at the Pinnacle Bank Arena from November 24 through November 26, 2017. Photo by Audrey Perry

By Audrey Perry – News

Did you know that in a census done in 2016, over 10,000 people were recorded as homeless across the state of Nebraska? Most of those citizens solely rely on shelters and nonprofit organizations to survive.

That means that those nonprofits depend on donations and volunteer service to be able to keep up with the need.

In most cases, the public is eager and able to help, but not at the right times. According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, in their Winter 2011 issue of the Nonprofit Fundraising Survey, “over half of the non profit organizations queried reported that they received over a quarter of their contributions between October and December, with 16 percent of all organizations receiving over half their year’s total contributions during those same months.”

People get their faces painted at Starry Nights Festival on November 25, 2017 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena. Photo by Audrey Perry

The same is true for People’s City Mission, the only shelter in Lincoln, where they receive the majority of assistance during the holidays when people are in the giving spirit.

The only problem with that is, “our busiest time of the year is in January, February, March right after winter hits, and a lot of guys come in off the streets,” Pastor Tom Barber, CEO of People’s City Mission said.

We get huge amounts of people coming in with electricity bills for the weather and giving goes way down at the same time,” Barber said.

Over the years the board of the shelter created a solution to combat the drop in funding. Each year the shelter hosts fundraisers in times of high giving to stock up money for the times when giving is low and the need for assistance is high.

For the past seven years they have held Starry Nights, a Christmas tree auction and festival. This year their venue was Pinnacle Bank Arena from November 24 through November 26, 2017. The festival had an array of activities that were mostly family centered. Around the floor of the arena there were treats from the Sweet Shoppe, with cookies, hot cocoa, popcorn, and coffee. There were also Creation Stations that included face painting, gingerbread houses, stocking kits, letters to Santa, and ornament kits.

Volunteering at the ornament station, Lincoln High senior Nyayaang Luak commented on the atmosphere of the event.

“This is a really cool thing, and a lot of the parents think it’s neat that their kids get to make things like this… it’s really sweet,”Luak said.

The children could also get a free picture with Santa after walking through the gallery of donated Christmas trees. Throughout the entire event entertainment including dancers, singers, and storytellers performing on a stage on the floor of the arena.

A tree donated by Scheels adorns the Christmas tree gallery display at the Starry Nights Christmas tree auction and festival held at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Nov. 24-26, 2017. Photo by Audrey Perry

The most popular part of the festival was the Christmas tree gallery. Local artists were sponsored by business around Nebraska, and they each creatively decorated enormous trees that were sold at a gala the evening of the 26th.

It was the most essential piece of the event because of the profit from the sales.

“We keep it very inexpensive,”Barber said. “The money we make is not really in the tickets, it’s in selling the trees and donations,” he added.

As a whole, the event turned into a fun way that the public can celebrate the season, but it is the essential part of what creates a way for People’s City Mission to continue what they’re are doing and making an impact on the public.