Home & Garden

"It”s a Wonderful House," spreads holiday cheer to Gwinnett Children”s Shelter

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Every year, homeowners participating in the Chateau Elan holiday tour of homes open their houses and let complete strangers walk through their homes.

And while that might seem a little intimidating, Karon Martinez, who has been both a design coordinator and past home participant says she and her husband had a lot of fun when their home was on tour.

"It was a pleasant surprise," Martinez says. "Most people that attend the event know that the money goes to the children”s shelter, so everyone was very respectful of our home and property."

Each year, homeowners of several houses, more than 120 sponsors and approximately 400 volunteers participate in the home tour event. "We met a lot of great people that year," Martinez adds. So far, the tour has welcomed more than 9,000 guests over the years.

This year, the sixth annual It”s a Wonderful House Holiday Tour of Homes at Chateau Elan will run Nov. 16 through Nov. 18. Tickets for the tour are $25, and all proceeds from the event will benefit the Gwinnett Children”s Shelter.

Martinez says, "We have minimum requirements when it comes to holiday decorating for the tour, but every year the homeowners always exceed the minimum requirements."

In fact, professional designers start early and transform each home into seasonal masterpieces. Each home has a different designer, giving the homes a customized and unique holiday appearance. The homeowners tend to spend the night out during the tour, but many make themselves available during the tour to answer questions for guests.

Leah Pugh, a 2007 home tour participate, says she has attended the tour for the past three years and had a great time. "We are so excited to be able to help this worthy cause and hope the children served by the Gwinnett Children”s Shelter receive God”s richest blessing," she says.

"I also love Christmas, and this gives me an excuse to overdo Christmas," she adds.

During the tour, shuttle buses will transport guests from the Chateau Elan Winery to the home sites. The last shuttle departs two hours prior to the tour close each day. The tour also includes dining, shopping and musical entertainment, and 20 percent of the gift gallery sales will go to the shelter.

For more information on the Chateau Elan Tour, visit www.itsawonderfulhouse.org.

So far, the Chateau Elan home tours have raised more than $650,000 for The Gwinnett Children”s Shelter.

This year marks the 20th anniversary for The Gwinnett Children”s Shelter, which provides a home for more than 350 children and young adults each year. The organization also reaches more than 6,000 youth through community outreach and education, as well as assisting families through parenting classes and counseling.

Those unable to attend the home tour this holiday season may visit www.gwinnettchildrenshelter.org to view a wish list of items needed year round.