DALLAS, Nov. 1, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Christmas Decor, a leading holiday lighting and decorating franchise, has teamed up with Birds Eye View Project to launch Patriotic Pines in an effort to show support and bring awareness to military and first responder communities across the United States. At a time when our nation seems so much at odds, the partnership aims to play a role in spreading efforts of unity, hope, and appreciation for the country and those who spend their days protecting our way of life.
Christmas Decor and its network of 250+ operators will be donating the red, white, and blue Christmas trees and garland flags to military families, VA hospitals, VFW lodges, military recruiting stations, local police stations, and fire departments across the country this holiday season. Additionally, retail orders can be made at www.patrioticpine.com if individuals are interested in aiding in the awareness effort or donating to local organizations.
“We have taken the humble symbol of the American flag and created a line of products that allow each and every American to show their support and thanks for military families, veterans, and first responders,” stated Rayan Parrott, founder of Birds Eye View Project. “We believe with the help of Christmas Decor, we can spread a message of unity, pride, and support for our brave men and women at a time when our country needs it the most.”
The partnership formed when Dallas-based philanthropist and former Navy SEAL, Ryan Parrott decided to expand Patriotic Pine to a national level by connecting with Christmas Decor’s parent company, The Decor Group. The idea began as a way to honor U.S. military members who cannot be home for the holidays. At a time of year when many spend their days with family and loved ones, others do not have that luxury. They are the brave men and women of our armed forces and first responders protecting our country and daily way of life.
“When we were approached by the Birds Eye View Project with an opportunity to partner with an amazing cause like Patriotic Pines, it was another wonderful opportunity to support a group of people who we admire and aim to appreciate,” stated Brandon Stephens, president of Christmas Decor. “This program complements our existing Decorated Family Program which is in its 15th year of transforming the homes of servicemen and women each holiday season. These efforts are the least we can do for those who risk their lives of us daily.”
Now a seasonal tradition, hundreds of franchisees nationwide participate in the Decorated Family Program by donating products, resources, and time to decorate the homes of local military families with lights, garland, ornaments, and other trimmings. Following the decorating process, each decked out home is revealed during a surprise ceremony.
Operating in more than 300 markets and 49 states, Christmas Decor, Inc. is the largest professional holiday and event decorating franchise. The company offers complete decorating service programs including unique display design, installation, maintenance, and removal of holiday lighting and decorations – alleviating decorating stress while delivering the look customers want within a reasonable budget.
For more information on Christmas Decor and to find a local operator, please visit http://www.christmasdecor.net/
About Christmas Decor
Since its inception in 1986, Christmas Decor has risen to become the premier holiday lighting and decorating company in North America. The Texas-based company was founded by Blake Smith as an off-season supplement to his landscape business and as a method to provide year-round work for employees. Christmas Decor quickly emerged as a viable business opportunity and today, operates in more than 300 markets in 49 states and Canada. Christmas Decor is highly revered in its field and has received consistent recognition for its efforts, including its popular Decorated Family Programwhich has been featured on The TODAY Show, TIME.com, CNN and FOX, among others. For more information, visit www.christmasdecor.net.
About Birds Eye View Project
Birds Eye View Project generates awareness and raises funds for charities supporting veterans and first responders. Former US Navy SEAL Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, and other Veterans offer an up close and personal look at the extreme needs of veterans and first responders, as well as the people and organizations working to help them realize nothing is impossible, even the most extreme challenges. 2017 Beneficiary organizations include: Sons of the Flag, Carry the Load, 22Kill, Adaptive Training Foundation, America’s Mighty Warriors, Base Camp 40, Rebuilding Warriors, and Rosecrance Florian. Visit #Birdseyeviewproject and www.birdseyeviewproject.org for more information.
SOURCE Christmas Decor
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ind., Dec. 18, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — The Thomas More Society and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a stipulation to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a nativity scene on the Franklin County, Indiana courthouse lawn. The suit, brought by the ACLU on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the Satanic Temple, was the second such challenge filed in the past year by the atheist organization, FFRF, over the manger that’s been displayed annually for 50 years. With the filing of this stipulation, all legal actions that had been pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against Franklin County are concluded, without attorneys’ fees or any other costs to the county’s taxpayers.
“Religious speech is no less valuable and protected than non-religious speech under the First Amendment. These Freedom From Religion Foundation lawsuits against Franklin County and the local nativity scene were in retaliation against private citizens’ exercise of their freedom of religious speech in a public forum,” said Thomas More Society Associate Counsel Jocelyn Floyd. “We are proud to have resolved these legal cases without cost to the people of Franklin County.”
In December 2014, the ACLU of Indiana and FFRF of Wisconsin sued Franklin County, trying to force the removal of the privately-funded crèche from the courthouse, where it has adorned the lawn each Christmas season for the past half century. Thomas More Society attorneys were successful in securing the right of Franklin County citizens to keep their nativity scene on the lawn through Christmas. The nonprofit public interest lawyers then assisted the county in formally documenting its courthouse lawn access policy, a process which resulted in the lawsuit’s dismissal.
The ACLU of Indiana filed a new lawsuit against Franklin County on behalf of FFRF in March 2015, this one including the Massachusetts based Satanic Temple. The groups challenged the county ordinance requiring displays be sponsored by citizens of Franklin County. As part of a settlement, the county agreed to accept the designation of a local contact in lieu of requiring that sponsorship be wholly by citizens of Franklin County.
As a result of this most recent court action, this year’s Christmas nativity scene on the Franklin County courthouse lawn is joined by other displays from local residents and churches, and the FFRF of Wisconsin.
About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the organization fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Dec. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Many people are greatly affected by ongoing media coverage of national and international tragedies that have played out in recent weeks, just ahead of the holidays. And for those individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one, the holiday season can also be a particularly painful time.
Hospice professionals, who are experts in helping people deal with feelings of loss and grief, recognize how difficult the holidays can be for some and offer helpful suggestions as the holiday season moves forward.
“Our spirits can be adversely affected by negative coverage from current events that seems to be coming at us from all angles, whether it’s via television, newspapers, radio, or the Internet. Our emotional reactions can be heightened during this time of year,” says J. Donald Schumacher, a licensed psychologist and president/CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “Situations that stress danger and uncertainty in the world around us are particularly discordant during the holidays when we traditionally think of a period of ‘peace on Earth.'”
Added Schumacher, “And for those mourning a loved one – whether a recent death or one long ago – the holiday season which is customarily marked by celebrations and family gatherings can be full of painful reminders that heighten the sense of loss.”
Often, friends and family members of those affected by a loss are unsure how to act or what to say to support someone struggling during the holidays.
Here are some tips from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization:
- Be understanding and supportive if someone wants to do things differently this holiday season. Some people find strength in long established traditions while others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.
- Offer to help with decorating or holiday cooking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving or overwhelmed by events going on in the world around us. Lending a hand can be a great way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and their wellbeing.
- Invite someone to join you or your family during the holidays. If someone you know seems down or depressed, consider inviting them to join you for a holiday concert, religious service or a holiday meal where they are a guest. You might even offer to accompany them on a holiday shopping trip where a friend and extra set of hands can be helpful.
- Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen, staffing a coat drive, or working with children, may lift your spirits and help everyone feel better about the holidays.
- Never tell someone that he or she should get ‘over it.’ It can be important to acknowledge that a friend or loved one is struggling. Don’t discount their emotions, but give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.
- Be willing to listen. Don’t avoid someone because you don’t know what to say. Active listening from friends and family is an important step to helping someone coping with grief or overwhelming feelings of loss. Letting them share their feelings can help healing.
- Don’t be afraid to remember someone who has died. When someone is grieving, it is okay to let them know that you are thinking of the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.
- Follow up after the holidays to check in. Given the activity of the season, some people may make it through the holidays without any issues but they might find the post-holiday period to be more difficult. So circling back after the holidays to see how he or she is doing can help.
“Hospice and palliative care professionals have always recognized the need to provide emotional and spiritual support to those who are dealing with loss,” added Schumacher. “Hospices often offer support to community members struggling with grief or loss so it might be useful to check with your community hospice to see if support is available.”
To learn more about grief or coping with loss, visit NHPCO’s CaringInfo website, www.caringinfo.org.
By A Servant In Training
Thomas More Society Legal Experts Uphold Private Citizens’ Right to Celebrate Christmas in the Public Square
CHICAGO, Nov. 26, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Never fear, the attorneys are here to separate fact from fiction surrounding private citizens’ right to freely express religious faith in the public square. Nativity scenes will appear in nine State Capitols this Christmas – five of them due to the work of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm.
As experts on public nativity displays, Thomas More Society attorneys have settled legal challenges for private groups sponsoring Christmas manger scenes for thirty years, since helping defend the original erection of a life size crèche on Chicago’s Daley Plaza.
Christmas 2014 marks the eighth year that statues of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus have resided in a small stable at the Illinois State Capitol. Thomas More Society has also helped secure permits for nativity scenes to be displayed this year in the State Capitols of Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Texas, and on the Governor’s Mansion lawn in Oklahoma.
“These nativity displays represent classic free speech and the free exercise of faith by private citizens in the public square,” explained Tom Brejcha, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society. “However,” he added, “The issue has not been without controversy.”
Private citizens who wish to display a nativity scene in traditional or designated public forums often run into roadblocks that violate their free speech rights, including:
- Take it all down
Either unwilling or unable to discern what is legally permissible, some authorities will allow no displays that allude to Christmas. This was the case last year when the U.S. Military’s Guantanamo Bay commander ordered the removal of all Christmas nativities, and nativity scenes were also removed from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina.
- Secular only
When only allowing secular holiday scenes, some authorities refuse to permit any display deemed “religious,” deferring to generic winter symbolism such as snowflakes and mittens.
“These are issues that our Thomas More Society experts can address,” offered Brejcha, who has helped file permit requests and brought about amicable resolutions to disputes with municipal and state officials over Christian nativity scenes for three decades.
Brejcha added that resolution is often simply a case of education, “Nativity displays represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in traditional or designated public forums, where the sole role of the government must be that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their ‘say.’ Such private expressions of religious belief in the public squares of our nation are not merely tolerable but fully deserving of robust legal protection.” In other words – there’s no need for a fight before Christmas.
Individuals or private citizen groups who are interested in sponsoring a public nativity scene – or those encountering roadblocks in doing so – may contact the Thomas More Society at 312.782.1680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends and fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court. www.thomasmoresociety.org
Black Friday Becomes Bless Friday® – Blessings Stretch from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Stream Waters to the Rhineland in 5th Year
HOUSTON, Nov. 17, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — Since 2010, Houston area churches have provided an alternative to frenzied Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Continuing this tradition, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC), Beacon of Light Christian Center, St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, St. Francis Episcopal Church, West University Baptist Church, Crosspoint Church and The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, are each scheduling community service projects on Friday, November 28. Also, this year the Christian community in Seattle can join parishioners from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church who will be helping the homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul of Seattle food bank. These churches ask families and individuals to celebrate Bless Friday® as an alternative to Black Friday.
A family-friendly activity at MDPC will connect its congregation to wounded warriors in Germany. Volunteers will make no-sew fleece pillows for wounded servicemen and woman being treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The pillows will be gathered on the church on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and shipped to the Chaplain’s Closet at the base.
West University Baptist Church and Crosspoint Church, both located in Houston, will join Bless Friday this year. They will unite in blessing a local medical clinic ministry, Casa el Buen Samaritano, by supporting its annual Christmas tradition of delivering cookies to patients and their families.
Again this year Bless Friday will operate a post in the plaza at City Centre, a mixed-use development in west Houston. Last year some people drove 60 miles to help assemble bags designed to bless the homeless. The post provides a respite from shopping for City Centre patrons and a way to honor Christ with service. Passersby are invited to take one of the bags to keep in their cars and hand out to the homeless. Pastor Brandon Gaide states, “We want to provide a positive counterpoint to a day devoted to over-hyped consumerism.”
Beacon of Light Christian Center plans to walk through the community, passing out much needed produce. Unfortunately fresh fruits and vegetables are not always part of the daily meals for many families in their part of town. Pastor Anthony Gasery states, “We are using the day to address the physical and spiritual needs of our community.”
Some of the other activities planned around the city include: serving lunch at Star of Hope homeless shelter; prepping food, cleaning the facility and welcoming clients at The Beacon, a homeless shelter established by Christ Church Cathedral; preparing Vita Living’s Spring Branch home for the intellectually challenged for Christmas; preparing shoeboxes filled with Christmas gifts to be distributed by the International Seafarer’s Mission; bagging rice and beans for food pantries; improving the physical condition surrounding churches; and picking up trash at Memorial Park.
Chuck Fox, founder of Bless Friday, adds, “The great thing about Bless Friday is that you don’t need to participate in these planned activities. Any individual, family or group can identify a need and begin their Christmas season with service.” The improved website, BlessFriday.org, provides specific help connecting Houston area people with service opportunities and gives concrete examples for people in other areas to imitate or modify.
Bless Friday® was founded in 2010 in Houston to change the way Americans celebrate Christmas.
“Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens–children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend. Contrary to what hospital officials are claiming, they are disrespecting–not respecting–constitutionally protected religious freedoms.”
According to news reports, the students sang religious carols at the hospital in 2011 and 2012 with no resistance from officials. This year, however, when the students arrived to sing at the hospital, officials provided them with a pre-approved list of 12 non-religious Christmas songs that the hospital’s Pastoral Service had reportedly “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans” and said the students could not sing any other songs except in the hospital’s chapel.
The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “every federal court to examine the issue has determined that permitting religious Christmas carols to be sung at public facilities like the Medical Center fully complies with the First Amendment…. The Medical Center’s policy appears to be nothing more than political correctness run amok, and we thus urge you to immediately rescind the new policy instituted by the Medical Center’s administration.”
“The Constitution clearly prohibits the VA from targeting religious Christmas carols for exclusion from a public facility,” added Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “We hope our letter will help clear up the misinformation upon which the VA is acting and that it will lift its unnecessary and unconstitutional ban.”
Alliance Defending Freedom has encountered numerous other instances of actual or attempted Christmas censorship this season in Kalispell, Mt., West Columbia, S.C., Rock Hill, S.C., Bordentown, N.J., and Wausau, Wis. Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter in November to more than 13,000 public school districts nationwide to explain the constitutionality of religious Christmas carols and offer free assistance to schools that need help.
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)
- VA Protects Vets From Children Bearing Cards and Gifts and Singing Christmas Carols (gds44.wordpress.com)
- SC school lifts ban on religious Christmas carols (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
- VA under fire after prohibiting school children from distributing religious Christmas cards (al.com)
Founder of nation’s leading depression clinic explains why depression spikes during the holidays
SEATTLE, Dec. 10, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — The World Health Organization says Depression will be the number one disease in the World by 2020. Depression and the holidays often go hand-in-hand. Cold, dark months give way to eating binges and a nagging sense that our relationships or finances are not all that we’d like them to be.
The winter holidays are a grim reminder of what is, or what could have been, or of our disconnection from family. While holiday advertisements show happy families eating around ornately decorated tables the truth for millions of people is just the opposite; a lonely stressful time when the darkness of depression envelopes them like a blanket.
Dr. Gregg Jantz is a therapist who specializes in both depressive and eating disorders — twin culprits that are often closely linked. He is the author of Turning Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression (www.aplaceofhope.com). He says depression boils down to a lack of hope. The triggers can be anything from broken relationships to
financial struggles, lack of work, shorter days, or lack of exercise.
“Depression interferes with the ability to make decisions, concentrate, focus, or remember things,” explains Jantz. Further, it shows up as sadness or anxiety and often promotes feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. For Christians, depression can feel like a weakness or lack of trust in God. Women also suffer from depression at higher rates than do men but for both sexes depression is on the rise.
Like any other illness, depression unhinges families, steals joy, and otherwise keeps us from enjoying the positive aspects of life. “Purpose gives you the drive to keep going,” explains Jantz. “You need to create a purpose, plan, and mission for your life.” The holidays are simply a catalyst for what’s beneath the surface, a lingering sense that things are not as we’d like them to be.
To break the patterns of depression and live a life of hope, Jantz suggests we remember this simple truth: “A lack of purpose causes a lack of passion. Passion is what energizes your spirit, and purpose gives you personal meaning.”
- 8 holiday mood-boosting foods (alternativedepressiontreatments.wordpress.com)
- Slowdown of emotional recovery could be a warning sign for depression (medicalxpress.com)
- How You Can Beat the Holiday Blues This Season (naturalhealthyconcepts.com)
- Generations program tackles depression in older adults (kvue.com)