Submitted by KRIS LANDRUM

The second STEP Into Christmas Home Tour, held Dec. 7, raised more than $29,000 in ticket sales and sponsorships.

This year there were six, privately-owned historic homes on Claiborne Avenue and High Street in Rocky Mount that were open for the tour.

The fundraiser was for Solutions That Empower People, or STEP, Inc., a nonprofit community action agency that 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 Marc Crouse, STEP executive director. “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.”

Several hundred visitors stopped by the Claiborne Avenue neighborhood to see the homes decorated for Christmas.

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 also were treated to refreshments provided by STEP board members and area businesses.

A Festival of Trees, featuring Christmas trees decorated by 10 of STEP’s sister nonprofits, was an added attraction to this year’s event. Visitors were encouraged to vote for their favorite tree by placing new, unwrapped toys under them. More than 430 toys were collected and 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 widespread 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’s 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.

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