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CONYERS — The Annual Christmas Tour of Homes returns to Conyers in December for the 23rd year, this time with an extra dash of Southern hospitality.

The tour will be held Dec. 4 as a candlelight event from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on the afternoon of Dec. 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The event, sponsored by Rockdale Emergency Relief, is designed to promote the Conyers/Rockdale community and provide new ways to engage with neighbors in a fun way — while helping RER raise funds for citizens in need.

This year’s Tour of Homes committee is led by JaNice Van Ness, Peggy Lawrence and Tanya Cobb, and they are adding a new twist by featuring Southern hospitality. They will offer mini sessions on charcuterie board assembly, food and wine suggestions for entertaining, home decor trends, floral arrangements for the season and more.

This annual event is an important part of fundraising efforts for RER, and participation will provide a significant opportunity to increase community outreach services. Volunteers for the event are invited to send their name and contact information to

Tickets for the tour can be purchased online at or by calling 770-356-7301. The tour will kick off at the new Rockdale County Public School administrative building, the historic site of the former Pine Street Elementary, located at 960 Pine St., where tickets will be available as well as plenty of convenient parking. Homes on the tour are within walking distance and are beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.

RER’s focus revolves around assisting with basic necessities for Rockdale residents in need. Its primary services include food bank, financial assistance during a hardship, holiday assistance, and a school break lunch program. The organization touches thousands of Rockdale residents throughout the year emphasizing housing stability for neighbors in need. The organization’s motto is “Neighbors helping neighbors.”

The RER board of directors plays an important role in supporting the organization and its services. The board collaborates with community partners and RER staff to help sustain the organization’s services and neighborhood connections. RER’s staff – Anessa Yarberry, Community Programs coordinator, and Susan Smith, executive director – are primary points of contact for all RER services. Over the last two years, the staff has been able to successfully update processes, improve both efficiency and client satisfaction, and reinvigorate RER within the community through strengthening existing and creating new connections. Volunteers have a vital place at RER, helping the staff members ensure services run smoothly. RER maintains a positive focus of ensuring that clients retain a sense of respect and feel valued when seeking assistance.

December is an important month for the organization as two important events take place in the community. RER’s holiday assistance program plays an important part in the lives of families in need. RER partners with the Rotary Club of Rockdale and the Conyers Rotary Club to sponsor 150 children to provide Christmas, where Christmas might not otherwise be an option. Registration for this program starts in September and runs through early November. Additionally, the December Tour of Homes is a special event that is a critical fundraiser that supports the work of RER during the year – every dollar of the proceeds stay in Rockdale to help with overall housing stabilization for families in need.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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