The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

A Festival of Trees Testifies to Community's Generosity

Karst Recognized for Years of Service


November 27, 2019

A.J. Etherington / The Courier

HOPE Project Committee Member Rod Karst avoids the spotlight while being recognized by the committee for his years of service to Relay for Life and Festival of Trees. He quickly urged the crowd back to the auction, but not before the Courier captured this shot of his reaction.

The newly founded HOPE Project, having spun off from the local Relay for Life Committee, continued the tradition of auctioning off Christmas trees at their annual Festival of Trees at the Elks' Lodge on Nov. 22. At the end of the night, the event had served over 140 prime rib dinners, over 50 trees, wreaths and centerpieces were auctioned off and a whopping $8,000 dollars was raised to help Valley County residents in need of assistance in covering ancillary medical costs like travel, hotel rooms and un-payable bills.

Each year the attendees help choose their favorite trees from the stock of ornately decorated pines. This year, the people's choice awards went to "Remembering Our Service Men and Women at Christmas and Throughout the Year" by DJR and "Vintage Christmas" by Donna Dascher. Each will receive $50 Chamber Big Bucks.

In addition to raising funds, the event also took the opportunity to recognize event emcee Rod Karst for his years of service to both Relay for Life and the Festival of Trees. Karst has taken charge of many events over the last 15 years, so the committee presented him with a cake decorated like a Coca Cola can and a gift. Karst reluctantly accepted the recognition steering the crowd quickly back to the auction at hand.

During the event, Karst also explained the story of how they came to break away from Relay for Life and found their own organization to keep the funds and assistance local to the community.

He said a local lady had reached out looking for help in paying for expenses for treatment in Billings, but when he referred her to the Relay for Life organization in Billings, they informed her that they no longer cover those types of requests.

"So, we quit Relay for Life," said Karst, adding that, "We still wanted to help people." The solution came in the form of the HOPE Project, or Helping Others Pay Expenses. The organization has set out to continue raising funds to help cancer patients and others pay for the sometimes demanding costs of seeking medical treatment, sometimes as far away as Billings and Great Falls and even further.

Courtesy Photo / For the Courier

One of two People's Choice Award Winners, "Remembering Our Service Men and Women at Christmas and Throughout the Year" by DJR.

Karst also filled the crowd in on how the organization's establishment was going. To date, HOPE Project had completed their articles of incorporation, their bylaws and were close to acquiring their 501 (c) 3 status. The goal, according to Karst, is to have everything in place by 2020.

"We've done a lot of work," Karst told the crowd. "But we've got a ways to go."

To apply for assistance, residents can reach out to members of the committee and file an application. Karst said they were looking to establish an application committee to review requests separately from the managing committee. He also said the organization will continue the events that used to be held by Relay such as Cuisine for a Cure and Skate for a Cure. There will no longer be a relay, however, as the project hopes to transition to their annual Fourth of July barbecue each year at the fairgrounds.


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