Giving Back

Ankeny’s 4th Annual Ho Ho Home Tour celebrates the season.

Barb Wiedenman is not one to sit on a good idea. The Keller Williams Ankeny Realtor is more inclined to dive in and make sure those good ideas become reality. That enthusiasm is contagious, as evidenced by the success of Ankeny’s Ho Ho Home Tour.

“I’d been to our national convention and had seen similar events in other areas, but on a much larger scale, and I just thought, we need something like that here,” she explains.

The holiday home tours served as fund-raisers for local charities. She was so intrigued by the idea that she immediately reached out to some of her business contacts that spring, determined to put a local tour together for the following holiday.

“I was referred to the Ankeny Service Center,” Wiedenman says. “That’s when Kim Schaaf and I met, and I learned about what the Service Center offers. I knew they were the perfect recipient for the event.”

Ankeny, the fastest-growing city in the state and one of the fastest-growing in the nation, has a reputation as a middle-class suburb. However, Wiedenman says it’s not that simple. “There’s real need here, and as the community grows, so does the need.”

Schaaf says that since the Service Center began operating independently in 2010, the requests for assistance have grown exponentially each year. Clients are referred to the Ankeny Service Center through the schools, the local food pantries, and other local service organizations and providers.

Schaaf, who is on the Ankeny Service Center board, says, “In addition to our regular assistance programs, our Holiday Assistance Program provides qualifying families with a Thanksgiving meal and basic necessities for the holidays. We have a separate sponsorship program, where businesses and families can sign up to sponsor families that might otherwise not be able to buy Christmas gifts. But thanks to the Ho Ho Home Tour, we’re able to give each of those families basic necessities, too, from laundry detergent and towels to other basic necessities they might not be able to afford.”

Since its inaugural event in 2014, when the Ho Ho Home Tour brought in more than $13,000, the tour has raised enough money to provide meals for several hundred families.

“A lot of people aren’t familiar with who we are and what we do,” says Schaaf. “But once they learn about the variety of assistance we provide, they’re excited to get involved. If we don’t have the assistance someone needs, we know how to connect people with the right organization and services.”

“One thing I’m really proud of is that 100 percent of the funds raised go toward the Ankeny Service Center,” Wiedenman says. “Everything that goes into this event is donated. And it’s a top-notch event. We have attendees who’ve come back every year, and they make it a real night out. Some of them rent limos and just go from house to house. We provide the holiday home, the food, the drinks.”

Typically, the tour includes half a dozen homes beautifully decorated for the holidays. And at each location, a local vendor serves food and drinks. Representatives from the Ankeny Service Center serve as greeters at the homes, allowing the homeowners to mingle with guests and enjoy the evening as well.

“We really try to make this as easy as possible for the participating homeowners,” Wiedenman says. “They can decorate their homes themselves, or they can take advantage of participating vendors who will come in and help decorate. They don’t have to prepare food or supervise the tour. We take care of all of that.”

During the first event in 2014, Yvonne Silvers, Vice President at Bankers Trust, assisted some friends whose home was part of the tour. Silvers was in the midst of building a new home with Kimberley Development at the time. She was so impressed with the Ho Ho Home event, she volunteered to be a host the following year, when her home was finished. This year, she’s on the event board.

“I’m not sure Barb even had a chance to ask me if I wanted to be on the board. I just told her I wanted to do it,” Silvers laughs. “I just think this is such a good cause and such an unknown issue. I didn’t really know what the Ankeny Service Center was before I helped with that first tour. Now I’m a regular donor.”

Silvers says that for homeowners who haven’t attended a previous tour, the idea of opening their home to strangers can be a little intimidating. But once they see how well organized the event is, their hesitation is gone. “No one has ever regretted the experience. We have people asking to be hosts for next year, or wanting to host again,” she says.

Wiedenman says new locations each year keep the tour fresh. And the event is open to adults only to avoid mishaps and to honor the homeowners who share their homes.

“The ticket price not only allows the event to provide a lot of support for the Ankeny Service Center, but it encourages the homeowners, too. The hosts know that the people who participate are there because they’re interested, they appreciate the work that’s gone into this, and they want to support the Service Center,” Silvers says.

The 4th Annual Ho Ho Home Tour takes place Saturday, December 1, come snow, sleet, or starry skies. The tour is a festive way to begin the holiday season by mingling over good food and warm drinks while surrounded by beautiful decorations and great company.

Ankeny Service Center

Serving the needs of Ankeny and northern Polk County residents for more than 30 years, the Ankeny Service Center provides food assistance, emergency assistance, and coordination of benefits for children, seniors, and families.

Donations from the following participants, as well as 100 percent of ticket proceeds, benefit Ankeny Service Center’s Holiday Assistance program:

  • A&R Workshop
  • Cabaret
  • Carmen’s Flowers
  • Cyd’s Catering
  • District 36
  • Elements
  • Forget Me Not
  • Hy-Vee North
  • julsdesign
  • K Renee
  • Lotta Pop
  • Main Street Café & Bakery
  • Rocket Fizz
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • Signature Home Styles
  • Sweet to Eat
  • Tasteful Dinners
  • Thrive
  • Treasure House
  • Tweedle Dee’s
  • Whiskey River
  • Wig & Pen

To Donate or Learn more at

Make a night out of it!

Join the fun—and help someone else have a Merry Christmas.

  • Saturday, December 1, 2018
  • 5:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
  • Must be 18 or older
  • Tickets $25
  • All proceeds benefit Ankeny Service Center
  • Fully decorated homes for the holidays
  • Appetizers at each location
  • Tour homes in any order
  • Tickets available online or at these Ankeny locations:
    • Keller Williams
      2325 SW State Street
    • A&R Workshop
      1631 SW Main Street, The District at Prairie Trail
    • Treasure House
      721 N Ankeny Boulevard
  • Check out the event Facebook page