AP NEWS

Mother, daughter share holiday spirit to help Fort Bend children

December 4, 2017 GMT

Trecy Schnitzer and Ashley Aetonu, mother-daughter interior designers, have been regulars on the annual Child Advocates of Fort Bend Christmas Home Tour for more than 10 years.

This year, they are part of the five-house tour with Aetonu’s Long Meadow Farms home at 21303 Redcrest Manor Drive in Richmond featured.

“We are interior designers and love seeing all the gorgeous homes and getting in the holiday spirit,” Aetonu told CAFB. “After each tour, we would say that we should try to make my house CASA-ready by the following year. I can’t believe my house is finally on the tour! We are beyond excited for this opportunity to do what we love while benefiting such an amazing cause.”

This year’s tour almost didn’t happen, though because of Hurricane Harvey.

“As the aftermath of the hurricane took a physical and emotional toll on area residents, it was hard to fathom putting on this event, however, we realized that it was important to move forward with the tour,” said Lisa Moore, spokeswoman for Child Advocates of Fort Bend. “More than 1,200 children in foster care along the Texas Gulf Coast were displaced by Hurricane Harvey and their needs didn’t go away.”

She said families evacuating their homes and relocating can disturb support and social networks.

“For child victims of abuse, some of whom may have already been removed from their homes, a traumatic event like this one can make symptoms worse,” said Moore. “For others, a natural disaster can spark depression, extreme stress, anxiety, PTSD and a host of other problems. We realized that while recovery efforts were in full swing, these children need us now more than ever.”

Family gets the credit for the spirit of Christmas in the Aetonu home. That includes Stacy McCarty, Aetonu’s sister; Steven Aetonu, her husband; and Jack Schnitzer, Aetonu’s father.

“Everything we do we do as a family,” said Trecy Schnitzer.

Decorating started Nov. 1 - though Aetonu thought they should have started sooner - and the mother-daughter team had finishing touches to make the weekend before the Dec. 8-9 home tour. The tour is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday with a candlelight tour 6-9 p.m. Friday.

Aetonu’s theme is “A Few of My Favorite Things.” Those things include her children, the beach, animals and the color blue.

The two-story corner house has a Christmas tree in nearly every room reflecting those interests. There’s a sports tree for her oldest son Jace, 8, and superheroes take the day for Coen, who is 5. And the princess tree belongs to her three-year-old daughter Laney.

Between the living room and kitchen sits the blue and white peacock tree which earned Aetonu top design honors three years ago in Dallas. Other rooms feature flamingos, sharks and mermaids.

“I like timeless stuff,” said Aetonu. “I mix styles together. If I like it, I’m going to make it work.”

“The beach is my favorite place ever,” continued Aetonu. The stairway wall features family pictures taken during visits to the beach over the years.

In addition to the holiday decorations, visitors to the home will be entertained by schoolchildren from Lamar Consolidated and Fort Bend independent school districts and treated to homemade cookies and refreshments.

Other homes on the tour include the Dew House in Kitty Hollow Park in Missouri. It is the first historic home featured on the tour.

“The Fort Bend History Association approached us about participating,” said Moore. “Not only did we love the idea of having a home decorated in vintage style but we thought that sharing a bit of Fort Bend history would make a great addition to the tour.”

Other homes on the tour are in Sugar Creek, Sweetwater and Riverstone.

“We like to showcase a variety of homes and decor each year,” Moore said. “The homeowners and their decorators collaborate on the décor and sometimes they do have a theme in mind, but it is not required. The only requirement is that the home is decorated throughout for Christmas.”

Tour tickets are available online at www.cafb.org and at Fort Bend County Randalls stores, the Sienna Plantation HomeFinder Center, CRU Home, Deep Roots Floral Studio, Feather & Nest Interiors and Twenty-Two Fifty Interiors. Tickets are $25. One ticket provides admission to all five homes and can be used at any time during the tour. Directions to the homes are on the back of the ticket. The 26th Anniversary Christmas Home Tour is underwritten by the Fred and Mabel R. Parks Foundation.

“We work hard to keep our expenses low so that 94 percent of the money raised through this event goes directly toward programs and services for the children we serve,” said Moore. “Without the help of our many generous sponsors, we wouldn’t be able to count on this event to help fund our programs.”

Proceeds from the Christmas Home Tour help CAFB advocate for the needs of abused and neglected children in this community. The next volunteer training session will begin Feb. 12. Call 281-344-5259 for details.

Again this year the home tour will include a raffle of 16 wreaths designed by decorators and volunteers. Visit www.cafb.org to check them out.