Christmas is a time of year when many people reflect on traditions, memories, and the connections to those around us. The decorating of a Christmas tree is often the center of those things for many, including the individuals that Christian Opportunity Center (COC) supports. Whether they are celebrating the Christmas season with the friends they share a house with or the friends they see at Life Skills, they find joy in the tradition of decorating their Christmas trees each year.

COC offers residential services to approximately 150 individuals with disabilities in Pella, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, Indianola, and Des Moines. Most individuals in COC’s residential programs live in either an Intermediate Care Facility for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/ID) or a Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) home. People with disabilities living in an ICF/ID generally need considerable supervision and support with activities of daily living. An HCBS home provides teaching and support to help people with disabilities develop independent living skills while living in shared homes. COC also offers a day program called Life Skills in Pella, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, and Indianola, which many of the individuals living in HCBS homes attend. Life Skills staff support individuals in learning about and being involved in their communities while also working on developing social and other skills.

COC’s staff work to help the individuals who participate in our services to feel connected to their homes and their community. The people we support find so much joy in decorating their homes for Christmas, and they wish to share their finished Christmas tree with their families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. However, distance and the busyness of the holiday season can create obstacles.

So, to help overcome the obstacles of distance and busy schedules, this year COC is announcing its first ever Virtual Parade of Christmas Trees. The participating COC homes and Life Skills programs have photographed their Christmas Trees and posted them on the COC website. COC invites the community to view and vote for their favorite Christmas trees at The tree which receives the most votes will win a pizza party for New Year’s Eve.

“We feel this is a fun way to connect the people we support to their family, friends, and the community during the holidays. We see the pride they take in their homes and their Christmas decorations, and we want to help them share that with those around them,” said Amy Zuck, COC’s Public Information Director.