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Homes designed for the holidays

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Tanya and Dan Wagner stand in the living room of their home which will be one of the featured stops for this year's Christmas House Walk of Homes in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Though Thanksgiving is more than a week away, a few dedicated holiday heroes are nearly finished decking the halls with glittering baubles, sparkling lights and Christmas cheer, for public eyes and for charity's sake.

Worthington's ninth annual Christmas House Walk will be from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. All profits from the event, featuring four homes festooned with holiday glamour, will go to Hospice Cottage, Inc.

"The money all stays here in Worthington," said Karen Wasmund, House Walk organizer. "We hope that we have a good turnout this year, and we hope the weather is good."

Last year, nearly 700 people participated in the Christmas House Walk, which raised more than $6,800 for the Hospice Cottage -- approximately $1,000 more than the previous year.

Wasmund is already working on getting volunteers lined up for next year. Homes on the House Walk can be brand-new, Victorian-era classics and anything in between. They can be decorated with whatever the homeowners choose, and often get a little extra help from Hy-Vee, McCarthy's Floral, Sterling Drug, Deb's Décor and More and Picket Fence on Main.

"We try to get their families and friends involved to help decorate, and if they need anything more, I've got a wide selection of stuff I've been collecting over the last eight or nine years," Wasmund said. "I love Christmas."

Profits go to Sunset Cottage, a home for the terminally ill that includes space and support for their families, where both the patients and the families receive the help they need.

This year four homes will be open to the public and filled with Christmas cheer during the House Walk:

l Dan and Tanya Wagner, 1930 Woodland Ct.

l Helen Sandersfeld, 1515 Okabena.

l Diane Graber, 606 Lake St.

l Rick and Julie Shrubb, 1710 South Shore.

The Wagners will showcase the new home Dan started building on Good Friday 2009, which the family moved into on Dec. 22 last year -- just before the Christmas blizzard.

They will have a decorated Christmas tree in every room of the house -- even the bathrooms.

"It's a lot of work and a lot of stress," Tanya said, but added the cause made the two weeks of hard work worthwhile. "It's been fun. It's been an experience."

Both Tanya's stepmother and her grandmother were in hospice care before they passed away.

Tanya and Dan have spent plenty of time cleaning and decorating their home, but they also had some help from their children -- Jasmine, 13, Alan, 12, and Aaden, 14 months -- as well as cousin Tracie Luinenburg and aunt Barb DeGroot.

The Wagners already had some of the trees and decorations, and purchased additional items from The Hut.

The Wagner home is dressed for the holidays, but even without the Christmas decorations, the house's unusual touches are worth a second look. Dan, who builds homes for a living, added many unique details to the Wagner home, such as arches offering a feeling of spaciousness, a second-floor patio looking out over Worthington and distinctive ceilings throughout the house.

A few of the rooms feature murals on the walls, such as a painted homage to the Steelers on the wall of Alan's room. Two rooms feature built-in wall display cases and the home also includes a see-through fireplace. Tanya's collection of angel figurines, which she began to collect about six years ago, can be seen throughout the house, complementing the Christmas décor.

"It's worth it," Tanya said of all the preparations for the House Walk. "It's going for a good cause."

She encouraged others to volunteer to open their homes for future House Walks, advising them to plan ahead.

"We'll see how this one goes," Dan added.

Tickets for the event are available at the Nobles County Library, Hy-Vee, McCarthy's Floral, Sterling Drug, Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, Blooms-n-Baskets, etc., and the gift shop of Sanford Medical Center Worthington. Tickets are not available at the homes.

Holiday treats will be served by Sanford Medical Center Worthington Auxiliary members in the hospital lobby during tour hours.

Visitors to the homes are asked not to take pictures or children younger than 12 on the House Walk, though people can make arrangements with homeowners to return at a later time to take pictures.