The Christos House domestic violence shelter will host its 10th annual Chocolate Festival on Saturday, Feb. 9. In addition to the chance to taste a variety of chocolate treats, auction items will be up for bid. The organization serves Howell, Oregon and surrounding counties and the event is being held at the National Guard Armory in West Plains, beginning at noon.
The Chocolate Festival is the organization's main fundraiser of the year. It centers around a baking contest, samples of the finished products and a live auction of items donated by local businesses. Those who enter the contest
make two dishes of their delicious treat. One is for the sampling, and the
other is entered in the auction. Besides the chocolate goodies, items donated to
the auction include two VIP tickets to Ripley's Believe It or Not, a dazzling
piece of jewelry from Carter's Jewel Chest, two tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals
game, two tickets to the Showboat Branson Bell, an autographed picture of Martina McBride and more.
Christos House spokesperson, Kelli Neel, said the organization has set a big goal this year -- $15,000. "The festival has grown much larger every year. Last year, the festival raised approximately $10,000 and made it possible for Christos to purchase approximately 30 beds and two sofas for its shelter. Past funds have
been used to purchase an outdoor play set for the children of the shelter, and
This year, Christos hopes to purchase a 12 passenger van with the funds raised. "Often times, when someone leaves an abusive relationship, they can't get away
with their own vehicle, so they show up at the shelter either by police escort or a friend will bring them. Since they are here without their own means to get around, we offer transportation to medical appointments, to seek housing, DFS appointments and even to take children out on fun events," Neel explained,
discussing the need for a van for Christos.
The history of the chocolate festival goes back ten years. "The director at the time, took it upon herself to run with it.
She opened it up to the community to participate, and auction off other items
to raise money. It is always at the same time of the year, right around
Valentine's Day, and everyone has come to expect it and be ready for the
festival," Neel said.
If you have a delicious chocolate recipe, you can enter the contest for a chance to win prizes. Neel said the panel of judges is made up of community members that are active in helping the Christos House organization.
If baking a chocolatey treat isn't your thing, you can help by attending the festival, sample all of the locally made sweets, and bid on your favorite dishes
in the auction or bid on your favorite non-dessert items.
Admission to the festival is free, but tickets are available to sample the treats -- ten tasting tickets for $5, with additional tickets costing 50 cents each.