The second STEP Into Christmas Home Tour, held Saturday, Dec. 7, was considered a great success by organizers and visitors alike.
“What fun to see the insides of old beautiful homes,” commented Karen Webb on the STEP Into Christmas Facebook page after touring the six historic homes on Claibrone Avenue and High Street in Rocky Mount.
STEP Into Christmas was a fundraiser for Solutions That Empower People, (STEP) Inc., a nonprofit community action agency which offers services to low income families and people in poverty in Franklin, Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania and Bedford counties, along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville. The agency serves more than 3,500 people each year and is funded largely by state and federal grants.
“Funds from donations and events like the home tour allow us to offer more services to more people,” said STEP Executive Director, Marc Crouse. “Money received from grants have stipulations about how those funds can be used, and unfortunately not all needs fit neatly into specified categories. We’re so pleased to be able to expand our reach by holding this event in our back yard and reinvesting in our community.”
The home tour raised more than $29,000, including ticket sales and sponsorships.
Several hundred visitors flocked to the Claiborne Avenue neighborhood to see the homes decorated for Christmas. Each of the six homes had features unique to it, and the homeowner’s personalities were reflected in their styles of decoration.
In addition to seeing the decorated homes, visitors learned about local history and some of Rocky Mount’s founding families with a stop at Historic High Street Cemetery. Visitors were treated to refreshments provided by STEP Board members and several community businesses. Santa Claus was also present to inspire some holiday spirit.
A Festival of Trees featuring Christmas trees decorated by 10 of STEP’s sister nonprofits was an added attraction to the event. Visitors voted on their favorite tree by placing new, unwrapped toys under it. More than 430 toys were collected and subsequently distributed to local families through We Care Franklin County.
“We are grateful to our homeowners for so graciously opening up their homes to tour-goers,” Crouse said. About 450 tickets were distributed to visitors and sponsors.
The event received wide-spread support from the community and sponsors including P.A.C. Interiors, ReMax Mountain to Lake Realty, Mt. Regis Center, Xerox, Carter Bank and Trust, Franklin County Economic Development-Tourism, and WFXR TV. Other sponsors included Member One Credit Union, Haywood Jewelers, Choice Communications Group, Collinsville Printing, ValleyStar Credit Union, Hawk Advisors, Mid-Atlantic Data and Communications, Bassett Office Supply, Full Armor Custom Apparel, American National Bank, Appalachian Power, El Rio Mexican Grill, MidAtlantic Data and Communications Inc., Willard Insurance, Innovative Insurance Group, William White Sr. Certified Public Accountant, Zach Wimmer Edward Jones Investments. and the STEP Board of Directors.
Additional support was received from Virginia Office Supply, Kroger, RRS Foods, Arrington Enterprises, The Franklin Center, and numerous volunteers.