Many people who erect outside Christmas light displays just do it to celebrate the season, but Robbie Mullins has a purpose behind his display at 800 Hillview Drive in Paragould.
“I’m wanting to give back to the community and do a positive thing,” he said, “so each year I pick a local charity to donate to. And this year it’s Area 1 of Special Olympics.”
Mullins said the goal of his fund-raising effort is $3,000 for Special Olympics.
“I figure I have about $500 so far,” he said.
Mullins quickly added there is no charge to look at the nearly one-acre display of lights at the corner of Hillview Drive and Rector Road.
“But it’s just an option if someone wants to freely give money,” he said, “there is a QR code on the sign on the display, on the Facebook page for Area 1 Special Olympics ... and if you want to, there’s a cash receptacle there in the yard as well.”
Mullins said this is the second year he has used the display to generate donations to charities.
“Last year was the very first year I’ve done it,” he said, “and we did the Military Order of the Purple Heart.”
Mullins reportedly raised a total of $2,000 for the group.
Mullins said that the original idea – of yard decoration – has been in his mind since he was 12 years old.
“I’ve just been infatuated with how lights can cheer someone up,” he said, “and how you can do something positive with them and change the way things look ... You can be having a bad day, and if you like lights, it’ll just cheer you up.”
Mullins added that he figured everyone likes Christmas lights – “especially if you don’t have to put them up!”
Along those lines, he said, he rarely puts up a Christmas tree anymore, given the amount of effort it takes to emplace the exterior display.
“I just enjoy seeing the kids’ faces as they pull up,” Mullins said, “and a lot of times I’ll talk to them as they roll down the window, and I’ll ask them what their favorite part is. I enjoy that part of it.”
Mullins said he estimated he had invested a total of $5,000-10,000 in the display. “It’ll cost me $150-200 more on my electric bill for that month,” he said. “I just want to do something positive for kids of all ages.”