Preliminary planning has begun on The Newcomers Club of New Canaan's 2011 "Homes for the Holidays" House Tour. The tour, which will take place in early December, features five distinct homes festively decorated by local professional designers, with help from Newcomers' volunteers. The 2009 tour attracted almost 1,000 people and raised more than $55,000 for local organizations.

Some of those organizations helped by grants from the Holiday House Tour include the Getabout, Meals on Wheels and the Waveny Care Center.

The Getabout, which provides transportation to seniors, children, and those with special needs, has seen a steady increase in ridership over the last couple of years. According to president Bob Witt, the Getabout's four-vehicle fleet has provided 10,500 rides to New Canaan residents this year alone. While one of the vehicles shuttles riders around town, the three wheelchair-accessible vehicles spend much of their time taking residents to hospitals and doctor's offices in Stamford and Norwalk. "These trips can get very expensive," Witt said. "Without funding from groups like The Newcomers Club, we wouldn't be able to provide this service."

Meals on Wheels also relies heavily on local funding. The organization delivers food to 75 people in New Canaan every day.

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"The people we serve are not able to cook for themselves for a host of reasons," director Ruth Laird said. Those reasons can be temporary, due to an injury or illness, but most times it is an ongoing service. According to Laird, approximately 60 percent of their customers require a full or partial subsidy, which is why financial support from the community is so important. The grant from the Holiday House Tour provided daily meals for two New Canaan residents throughout 2010.

Waveny Care Center provides a wide variety of services, from physical therapy to assisted living to respite care. Waveny Care Center relies on the generosity of its donors in order to maintain their high level of services and facilities. With the donation they received from 2009 Holiday House Tour, they were able to purchase an electric ceiling lift, which allows patients to be safely transferred out of their bed while also easing the physical stress put on the caregivers. The 2011 Holiday House Tour Chairman Susanna Anderson, who also worked on the 2009 tour, recently visited Waveny Care Center to see the lift.

"One of the staff said that it was the best gift we could have given them," Anderson said. "Hearing those words just makes me want to redouble my efforts for the coming tour this December."

Other grant recipients included the Horizon Student Enrichment Program, the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Person-to-Person, STAR, ABC of New Canaan, Waveny Care Network and Tiny Miracles. If you are interested in volunteering your house for the tour, volunteering for the event or becoming a sponsor for this worthwhile event, contact Anderson at holiday_house_tour@yahoo.com.