By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: November 2011
Lyndyll and Lisa Johnston opened their beautifully decorated home for the Inola Christmas Parade of Homes last year. The event is sponsored by Gamma Pi ESA to raise money for their philanthropic projects.
In this rural Oklahoma community with a population of approximately 2,000, the Gamma Pi ESA has a passion and concern for helping others. The Inola Epsilon Sigma Alpha chapter has been on a philanthropic mission since it was first organized 26 years ago.
On Saturday, December 3, the organization will host its annual Christmas Parade of Homes to raise funds for their holiday projects. “We don’t keep any of the money raised,” says Janie Stevens, chapter member. “All funds we raise go toward needy families and individuals at Christmas.”
The Inola group has adopted three students from the Oklahoma School for the Blind in Muskogee for whom they purchase Christmas gifts each year. The group also provides financial support for the three by paying their yearly fees.
“As ESA members, we feel the Muskogee School for the Blind is a worthy project to support,” Stevens adds. “But most of the funds we raise during the year stay right here in Inola.”
The club will be providing toys for needy children in the Inola area as well as something for the parents, including a Christmas food basket.
“The Christmas Parade of Homes is not only an opportunity for area residents to help us raise money for our projects, but it gives people wonderful ideas for decorating their own homes for the holidays,” says Gertrude Riddle, chapter treasurer. “Each $5 donation adds up to help with our community projects.”
While the committee is still seeking more homes to join in the parade, three residents and one business are currently lined up to deck their halls with holly and other holiday finery. Carolcells Connections/The Inola Stuff Store is one of the sponsors that will be bringing holiday cheer to the parade of homes, according to Stevens.
“These participants are opening their homes and business to the public,” says committee member Karla Applegate. “We’d just like the people to come out and support other Inola people who need help.”
Past Christmas Parade of Home participants have creatively turned their residences into winter wonderlands. “Each room has a focal point,” says Stevens. “Last year, one homeowner decorated their music room by using sheet music for the Christmas tree ornaments. It was really cute.”
Other unique decorating ideas have included snowmen and angel trees, collegiate and old western decorated trees, as well as the traditional red and green associated with Christmas décor.
“All trees have a theme, and some homeowners have a tree in every room with a different theme,” says Barbara McClure. “I recall the year that one homeowner used her trophy belt buckles to decorate a tree. She was a champion barrel racer.”
This year’s Christmas Parade of Homes will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $5 in advance at one of the following locations: Inola Drug Store, Bank 1st, RCB-Inola, Dianne’s Flowers, or from any ESA member. On the day of the tour, tickets can be purchased for $7 at any house or business on the parade of homes. “Attendees can start at any location on the tour,” says Stevens.
Two chapter members will be the hostesses and guides at each stop to point out the highlights of each home or business. “We just want people to get out and enjoy the Christmas season,” says Riddle, “and support a worthy cause.”
The group is still seeking Parade of Home participants. If you would like to decorate your house and be a part of the fundraiser, contact Gertrude Riddle at (918) 543-2494 or Bobbie Martin at (918) 543-3044.
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.