The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 4, 2013

Area families Holiday Homes on Tour to save lives

By JAN PERALA
For the Star Beacon

— Four Ashtabula County families will ‘Open the Door to Christmas’ this Sunday at the sixth annual Holiday Home Tour sponsored by The Community Christmas Card Committee.

The Ashtabula home of Audra and Jeff Herter, the Geneva home of Connie and Mike Keenan, the Jefferson home of Kim and Jim Frustere, and the Austinburg Township home of Diana Gaul and Kenneth Baker are featured on the 2013 Holiday tour.

The ‘Open the Door to Christmas Holiday Home Tour’ is, at its heart, a life saver. Every cent of the proceeds generated by ticket sales for the tour will be added to the Community Christmas Card fund to purchase medical equipment for the Critical Care Unit at University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center. This year, funds raised will purchase a state of the art Site Rite 6 Ultrasound System.

 “We decided to open our home for the tour because the Community Christmas Card project is one the most meaningful traditions we share with our friends and neighbors,” homeowners Mike and Connie Keenan said. “This year, we lost my mom due to a sudden illness, but the care she received at University Hospitals was really wonderful. Had my mom survived, I know she would want us to help the Community Christmas Card committee with their effort to purchase this sophisticated equipment. We now live in the family home, and are participating in the tour in memory of my mom. We will be displaying treasured holiday decorations and traditions with people throughout the area at the home tour because the funds raised by ticket sales have and will continue to save lives.”

At the Herter home, visitors will be greeted by life size nutcrackers, which stand sentry by the front door. The home features 37 individually themed Christ-mas trees.

 “Ours is a country home along the Grand River,” Diana Gaul said. “I love decorating for the holidays and am excited about having our home on the tour.”

At the Frustere home, a highlight will be a unique, handcrafted Christmas Village.

 “I created the Christmas Village for my family and have added to it over the years,” Jim Frustere said. “The setting and construction of the Village seem to transport viewers back to a simpler time; a time when family and home were central to peoples lives, and remind them of the true spirit of Christmas. My wife Kim and I hope that visitors will enjoy the Village and we are very excited to open our home for such a great cause.”

Since 1970, Geneva area community members have contributed more than $265,000 to purchase medical equipment for the ICCU at University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center by adding their names to the Community Christmas Card. Families, organizations and businesses can sign their names on the card, published in the Star Beacon on Christmas Eve by making a contribution in any amount at Geneva and Austinburg banks or by contacting committee members. It is such a beautiful thing that the members of our small community have purchased an impressive list of sophisticated medical equipment for our hospital through their contributions to the Community Christmas Card, Janey Jones, a committee member since 1984, said. So many families, clubs and local businesses have helped to save lives by making a small donation, whatever they feel they can offer, sending holiday greetings from the heart to friends and neighbors and their contributions all add up. Donations to the fund as well as proceeds from the Home Tour and the raffle of a beautiful Christmas quilt donated by our friend Sue Curkendall provide a piece of life saving medical equipment for the hospital each year.  The 2013 Community Christmas Card commemorative quilt is on display at Mary s Diner where raffle tickets are on sale.

The sixth annual ‘Open the Door to Christmas Holiday Home Tour’ is this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. when the Frustere, Keenan and Herter families and Diana Gaul and Kenneth Baker join the tradition of homeowners who have offered their homes for the life-saving effort over the years.

Tour tickets are $15 each and can be purchased at Catherine's Christmas, Mary's Diner, Spire Institute, Central Hardware and Christmas World and from Community Christ-mas Card Committee members.

To add family names to the Community Christmas Card, with a contribution in any amount, visit any Geneva or Austinburg bank where pre-printed enve-lopes are available.

Contributions also will be accepted at each home on the Holiday Tour. The Community Christmas Card will be published in the Star Beacon on Christmas Eve and online on Christmas Day and will include the names of contributors to the fund. Deadline for donations is Dec. 19th

For more information, contact Community Christ-mas Card Committee Members Jan Perala 466-2713, Janey Jones 466-6669, Cathy Brashear 466-4911, Terri Vincent 466-0016, Tracy Clutter 466-0546, Jen Marrison 275-1554, Marianne Sezon Dana 275-1134, Anne Corlew 466- 6735, Polly Parker 466-0717 and Candy Urcheck 466-4889