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Tours of Christmas house in Flanders raise funds for youth
Dhonna Goodale’s grandparents raised her to think of others first, so each Christmas, starting when she was 5 years old, she would take $5 of her allowance and spend it on a present for another child.
“They would tell me, ‘Someone always has it worse than you do,’ ” said Goodale, of Flanders.
Continuing her family’s tradition of giving back, for the past 18 years Goodale and her husband, Bobby, whose family founded Riverhead Building Supply Corp., have taken homeless or troubled children on shopping sprees to Kmart in Riverhead each Christmas Eve morning.
“I was that kid,” Goodale said. “I know what it’s like to have temporary homes and live in shelters. I want these kids to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. It can change. You can go from welfare to philanthropy like I did.”
On Saturday, the Goodales for the first time will also open their home for private tours of their elaborate Christmas decorations. Money raised from admissions -- $50 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and under -- will go to provide $150 gift cards to struggling local teens.
Tours will be at noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. For reservations, required 15 minutes prior to arrival, call 631-727-7229.
Guests touring their house, at 186 Point Rd. in Flanders, will see life-size Santas, 10 themed Christmas trees, and some upside-down trees, which were original ideas used in TLC’s Christmas special last December when the Goodales were one of four finalists in the reality show competition “Four Houses: Deck the Halls.”
Don Duga, the animator of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” will be creating caricatures for families during the event. There will also be music, cocktails, holiday movies playing in the cinema room, raffles and gourmet lunch.
“They don’t know the gift they give me,” Goodale said. “I’m so blessed that I’ve found my purpose. I will never forget where I came from and strive to make memories for others.”
At the start of the tour, each child will be given $5 to use or to give to someone else. And children will also leave with a gift bag given out by Muriel Froehlich, who will be dressed as Mrs. Claus in “Santa’s Workshop” in the basement of the house during the tour.
“Giving to others is what Christmas is all about,” said Froehlich, of Jamesport, who is the personal assistant to Bobby Goodale. “And when you see the smiles on those kids faces, well, that’s the payoff for us all.”