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Reflections of budget cuts

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Hillcrest Family Services in Dubuque works with children in foster care but because of the economy, they are in desperate of funding. Well it's a direct reflection of the across the board budget cuts in our state.

Hillcrest and many others are looking for ways to continue offering services like foster care.

That's why this year, the 15th year of Reflections in the Park, has become a chance for you to give back and receive something in return.

"You look around and where else could you see more of Christmas?" said Sharon Lively.

For the last 8 years Lively has spent the weeks before Christmas here.

"We did it one night the first year, then the next you we did a couple more nights, and then a couple more nights and now it got to the point where I was up here every night and they couldn't get rid of me because I love it!" said Lively.

It's Hillcrest Family Services Annual Reflections in the Park in Dubuque.

"Hillcrest family services provides 22 programs to over 22,000 people each year. They include services for children and youth, women and adults and people with mental illness.," said Gary Gansemer, President and CEO.

As lights fill the park with images of the holiday season, budget cuts from October are leaving some programs in the dark.

"We had to make drastic cuts in our budgets, out staff wages were frozen but we did not lay anyone off," said Gansemer.

The children's residential treatment program and mental health services have taken a hit. Not to mention annual Christ appeals are much lower than the past. But there is some light to this story. They've seen a record number of cars come through the park this year.

"We expect about 40,000 people to come through the park this year. So not only are they helping us through funding out services but in a way we feel like we are providing them with a special service with reflections in the park," said Gansemer.

As service that's helping offset lower numbers and give a gift to everyone this season.

"In our donations, is trying to give to women and children and men who don't have that and togetherness at Christmas," said Lively.

Hillcrest expects to make $70,000 to $75,000 this year from Reflections in the Park. Money that will help fill a void in their budget. Also Santa will be visiting Monday night before he heads back to the north pole. And speaking of gifts, they tell me they've already had one marriage proposal in the park this year and they have buses from as far as Monticello and Manchester come through every night.

Reflections in the Park is open each night starting at 5 p.m. The park is open through January 1st. That includes Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Members from one of Dubuque's Jewish synagogues will volunteer at the gates. Cost is $8.00 a car.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

Follow Lauren on Twitter.

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