Realities for Children will celebrate its 25th annual tree lighting ceremony from 6 pm to 7 pm on Wednesday, December 1, in the courtyard of the First Presbyterian Church, 531 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins.
The iconic Big Blue NightLights Tree brings awareness to the very real issues of child abuse and neglect. Community members – individuals, families, and businesses – are encouraged to donate a light on the tree. Thanks to sponsors, 100 percent of these funds will provide emergency services to area children that have been abused, neglected, abandoned, or are at-risk through Realities For Children’s partner nonprofit agencies, many of whom will be at the event to share information about the services they provide.
“The issues of child abuse in our community are overwhelming,” said Craig Secher, Realities For Children executive director. “Although we have many wonderful organizations working together for these children and families in need, we cannot meet all the emergency and ongoing healing needs without the loving support of our community.”
NightLights is Realities For Children’s largest fundraising outreach, running each year from November 1 through December 31. This year, the organization has set the ambitious goal of $350,000 to help meet the increasing needs and demands placed on partner agencies and the increased number of children served. These resources will be dedicated to emergency services and healing programs.
Secher adds, “When you help take a child out of the darkness of abuse by giving them a nightlight this holiday season you help bring hope through the collective support of 40 partner agencies, we work with to see that no child in need is forgotten.”
The NightLights tree, designed by Blazen Illuminations, features over 30,000 programmable LED pixel lights, which generate special visual effects – including text – and a 9-minute musical light show. This tree is blue to recognize the international color for child abuse prevention.
Highlights of the evening include:
- Live music
- Complimentary hot drinks and cookies while supplies last
- Drawing for a chance to win a 30-pound chocolate Santa, courtesy of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (must be present to win)
- Visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus
- Appearance from Dude Dad
- Partner Agency Expo
Learn more about this free event and how to become a Guardian Angel for children in need at giveanightlight.com.
“We warmly invite everyone to join us for a fun hour as we light the 50-foot-tall tree – which is a remarkable work of art and love – and show appreciation for the many community members and volunteers who came together to make it happen,” said Secher. “Last December we served 3,892 children and hope to raise enough to serve all in need in 2022. We are genuinely grateful for each light purchased, which serves as a beacon of hope.”
About Realities for Children:
In 2021, Realities For Children provided:
- Provided emergency services for 5,430 children, more than 15 children per day
- Youth activities and Homebase facilities space for 4,361 children and guardians
- Distributed needed items to 11,176 children
Realities for Children was incorporated in 1995 and has been funding the unmet needs of Larimer County children who have been abused, neglected or are at-risk since 1996. Realities for Children works collaboratively with 40 Partner Youth Agencies and represents nearly 270 Business Members invested in making it their business to make a difference. In 2021, Larimer County fielded 6,289 referrals of child abuse and neglect. We strongly believe the collaboration is the path to the greatest change. Business membership fees underwrite all administrative costs, ensuring that 100% of all donations go directly to support the needs of children in our community.
Emergency Funding is provided for services and immediate needs for children who have been abused, neglected or are at-risk, and are requested by Partner Agencies. This emergency resource is accessible when all other resources have been exhausted and are available within 60 minutes of the request, creating a true county-wide safety net so no child in need is forgotten.