By Ingrid Schnader
Thirteen organizations in Hoover were invited to the first-ever Ho-Ho-Hoover Randle open house and tree decoration contest Sunday at the Hoover-Randle Home & Gardens.
The Hoover-Randle group provided the trees, and the only instruction to the area organizations that decorated the trees was that each tree should tell a story about those organizations. The trees were then judged by a panel of local celebrity judges, and Mayor Frank Brocato announced the winners, with “Best All-Around” going to the Hoover Arts Council.
Director Tahara Evans Wood said she is excited to bring the community into the venue.
“We always hear, ‘I pass by that house a million times, and I’ve never known that’s what it is,’” she said. “Even though we’ve packed 200 events in the two years that we’ve been open, we still have a lot of people that haven’t been here.”
Tickets were $10 each, but the Hoover-Randle Home didn’t pocket any of the money. All of the ticket sales benefited the nonprofit Hoover Helps, which works with faith-based organizations and local companies to provide food and other items to Hoover children in need.
Wood originally contacted Hoover Helps founders Donna and Greg Bishop to decorate a tree for the event. But when Wood began to learn about Hoover Helps’ involvement in the community, she decided to do more.
“I had actually helped foster three family members this past year and walked the walk of the free lunch programs, the help that the schools give,” Wood said. “When (Donna Bishop) told me about what they do with the backpacks, sending home food for the insecure … it just hit home with me so much.”
Greg Bishop said the Hoover Helps nonprofit is different because it has no paid employees.
“Everything that we take in in terms of donations from the community goes directly back to them to help people in the community,” he said.
His whole family is involved – including his daughters, nieces and nephews – and he said they all help pack bags, haul food and perform other tasks.
The Bishops created the nonprofit in 2015. Bishop had a gap in work, and he said this opened up the free time that starting a nonprofit requires.
“We knew all along that we wanted to do something to give back and to teach our girls the value of giving back to the community and helping your neighbor,” he said.
Bishop said he and his wife are honored to be chosen to benefit from Hoover-Randle’s first open house. The proceeds will help Hoover Helps fund additional incremental food projects.
“Hoover is such a generous place to live,” he said. “People genuinely want to help their neighbors. So to me, it’s an honor that we’re going to participate in the event.”