- - Thursday, December 20, 2012

Every spring since 2008, interior designers and landscape designers from the Washington area help raise money for Children’s National Medical Center by participating in the DC Design House project founded by Skip and Debbie Singleton, owners of DC Living Real Estate.

A number of designers participate in other community activities during the holiday season and throughout the year, bringing their expertise and enthusiasm to support a variety of causes.

Jeffrey Jones, owner of Classic Stonescaping and Gardens in Falls Church, started Decorate-A-Vet in 2010 to help military veterans beautify their homes for the holiday season. Since then, the project has grown and Mr. Jones has partnered with the Angie’s List Wishmakers program and other highly rated Angie’s List service contractors in the area to provide services to multiple recipients.

“This year, we had about 500 volunteers help us,” Mr. Jones said. “The volunteers are friends and family members and acquaintances and people we reach through social media. When I started this, I just wanted to help people out who have given a lot to our country. I have a number of veterans in my family and wanted to give back to that community.”

Mr. Jones estimated that about $35,000 worth of repairs will be done this year. While the initial idea was to decorate veterans’ homes for Christmas and spruce up the yards by raking leaves and providing a little bit of landscaping, the projects sometimes involve pressure washing, cleaning or repairing gutters and extensive landscaping.

Several interior designers participate each year in the Georgetown Jingle, which since 2006 has raised more than $1.5 million for the pediatric oncology programs directed by Dr. Aziz Shad at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Hosted Sunday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, this year’s Jingle included 17 trees and vignettes designed by some of the area’s top designers, which were auctioned to raise money for the cause.

Each designer was paired with a Georgetown patient ambassador who has undergone or is undergoing treatment at the hospital. Among the 2012 designers is Allie Mann, senior designer at Case Design/Remodeling Inc., whose patient ambassador, Sophie, has been treated for neuroblastoma, which is in remission. Ms. Mann said Sophie, who loves Dr. Seuss, helped her make the ornaments on the “Seuss-tacular” tree she created.

Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice, director of creative services with Christopher Patrick Interiors in the District, said she and Mr. Patrick have designed a tree for the Georgetown Jingle.

“This year we created a tree out of wood and Swarovksi crystal ornaments, Ms. Andrews-Rice said. “The Georgetown Jingle is not only a great cause, but also a great excuse for us to think outside the box about decorating a Christmas tree. We’ve just had a great deal of fun working on our tree and getting to know the children who receive or have received treatment at Georgetown.”

In addition to their involvement with the Georgetown Jingle, employees at Case Design/Remodeling participate in a number of charitable and community activities year-round.

“It’s about what touches us deeper on the soul and a way of expressing how thankful we are for our community,” said Bruce Case, president of Case Design/Remodeling. “We participate in the DC Design House and the Georgetown Jingle because of our concern for children. We recently remodeled five kitchens for Home Stretch, an organization in Falls Church that provides transitional housing for families with young children.”

Case Design/Remodeling, in partnership with other contractors and organizations, helps build and remodel Homes for Our Troops for wounded veterans. They remodeled the exterior of a veteran’s home in Virginia in 2011.

Organizations that support children and families also are a big draw for many local designers.

Kelley Proxmire, principal at Kelley Interior Design in Bethesda, is involved with the Center for Family Development in Bethesda, a retreat that focuses on family programs such as leadership training for boys and marriage programs for engaged and married couples.

“Many years ago, I decorated their lobby, and just recently I updated some upholstered pieces of furniture there,” Ms. Proxmire said.

Ms. Andrews-Rice and Mr. Patrick support the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known as THON, which raises funds for the fight against pediatric cancer. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $89 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

“THON is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy,” Ms. Andrews-Rice said. “As an alumni of Penn State, this is a charity that means a great deal to me, and this year Christopher and I plan to support THON and the Four Diamonds Fund by donating to auctions and helping to sponsor events like the NYC Hope Gala.”

Shanon Munn, principal of Ambi Design Studio in McLean, supports children in a variety of ways throughout the year.

“Every year, I buy my personal and business Christmas cards and some of my gifts from UNICEF,” Ms. Munn said. “Besides being an amazing organization, they have beautiful cards. I cannot stand the thought of needy kids — I have a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old — so I find this charity so important.

“Our primary large donation is to the local Capital Area Food Bank. The number of hungry people in our area is staggering. We have also done a Christmas wish tree in past years [where you adopt a family and purchase the gifts on their wish list]. The wishes for basic necessities like warm hats are heartbreaking.”

Tracy Schlegel and Kelcey Huff, co-owners of Waterlily Interiors in Bethesda, enjoy using their design skills to help raise money for local efforts.

“As a young and small company, we have focused on offering two-hour free design service certificates to local charities and organizations in our communities, like preschools and elementary schools,” Ms. Schlegel said.

Nadia Subaran, co-owner and senior designer with Aidan Design in Bethesda, and her co-workers support children and families locally and globally.

“One of our client’s daughters has a charity called Eva Nepal set up to provide aid to a community in Nepal, and we have supported them the last two years with donations for a silent auction they do on Thanksgiving morning,” Ms. Subaran said. “They do a walk every Thanksgiving morning, and last year, my husband and Aidan Design co-owner John Schmedigen and our daughters participated.”

Aidan Design also sponsors a child through Save the Children, and each employee purchased gifts for the company’s sponsor child and his family and friends. The staff sent the gifts, a group photo and letters to the child to arrive by Christmastime. Aidan Design, in recognition of its clients, vendors and sales representatives, will be making a donation to help with Hurricane Sandy relief through Save the Children.

“When you give, you get,” Mr. Case said. “Every family faces challenges, and when we volunteer, it’s a chance to realize we should be thankful for everything we have.”

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