The STEP Into Christmas Home Tour, organized and hosted by Solutions That Empower People (STEP), Inc. will not be held in 2020.
The tour, which features historic homes decorated for the holiday season in Rocky Mount, has served as STEP’s signature fundraising event for the past two years.
The STEP Board of Directors made the decision to cancel this year’s event “out of an abundance of caution and concern for everyone in our community,” said Kris Landrum, STEP’s marketing and communications director. The seemingly early decision six months ahead of the event is because of the complexity of planning and the time it takes to organize it, she said.
“The very first thing we have to do in order to even begin talking publicly about it is to identify the homes to be included on the tour,” Landrum said. “For the last two years hundreds of people have enjoyed the tour and walking through and admiring people’s homes. As you might imagine, the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that the virus is spread mainly person-to-person presents a huge obstacle. We understand that people may be wary of committing to having large numbers of people in their homes given that we don’t know what the virus may do between now and December.”
She said another factor is finding sponsors for the event.
“While we do sell tickets to tour the homes, we also depend on local businesses sponsoring the event to help fund it,” Landrum said. “We don’t feel that we can, in good faith, approach business owners who may have had negative impacts from the shutdowns resulting from the pandemic and ask them to support us with money.”
As with any large event, volunteers are needed to run the tours and host the reception afterward. Landrum said the board was uncertain if they would have been able to recruit the amount of volunteers needed to conduct the event.
Landrum said the needs of the organization have not disappeared with the pandemic, and STEP welcomes any donations that people would like to give to the nonprofit to help it continue to meet the needs of low-income families. Information on how to support STEP’s programs, which include Early Head Start and Head Start, youth services, senior services (Meals on Wheels, transportation), supportive services (re-entry, homelessness prevention); housing and weatherization and financial services (tax preparation assistance) are at stepincva.com/support-step.