Fashion / Shopping

Tootsies Gives Back to Trees of Hope This Holiday Season, Raising Money for Houston’s Homeless Kids

Nonprofit 'Star of Hope' Provides Joy and Resources to Kids In Need

BY // 12.03.21

There’s nothing quite like a Christmas tree to signal the season of magic, merriment and giving. It’s fitting then that Trees of Hope shines like the North Star, providing joy and resources to children through the Star of Hope, Houston’s largest mission for the homeless. The organization supports multiple programs throughout the year including new shoes for children in January and August, and a Mother’s Day celebration for women living at the Star of Hope’s Transitional Living Center. 

It’s a mission that matters, and one that aids Houstonians in need no matter what the season.

“For over 30 years, Trees of Hope has raised funds for the Children’s Critical Care Fund which helps provide vital services for the children living at the Star of Hope Women & Development Center,” Trees of Hope executive director Alina Schrom says. “These programs and services allow families the reality of a better life for thousands of Houstonians who struggle with the burden of homelessness.” 

That calling resonates with the community-minded team at Tootsies, a boutique known for its luxury labels and support of charitable organizations.  

Tootsies owner Norman Lewis and creative director Fady Armanious continued that spirit, honoring the women who give their time and resources to support the work of Trees of Hope.  

“We support many charities all year long, and this holiday season, we wanted to highlight Trees of Hope and the amazing women who are ambassadors for Trees of Hope,” Armanious says. “They are truly transforming and enriching the lives of so many children through the Star of Hope.” From this Thursday, December 3 through December 10, Tootsies is committing a percentage of sales to the nonprofit when shoppers mention Trees of Hope at checkout. 

In anticipation of the event, we spoke to Trees of Hope’s Lynn Wyatt, Sara Black, Ashley Boyd, Kelli Weinzierl, Kory Blum, Lesha Elsenbrook, DeeDee Marsh, Ashley Petersen, Rachel Gower and Jo Ann Petersen about the organization, favorite holiday traditions, and Tootsies fashion picks.

©Al Torres Photography
Lynn Wyatt wearing a Trina Turk blouse, Ralph Lauren skirt and Jimmy Choo shoes. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Lynn Wyatt — Trees of Hope Honorary Life Trustee

No Christmas light shines brighter than Lynn Wyatt. The Trees of Hope Honorary Life Trustee has supported the organization and its annual gala with her husband, Oscar Wyatt, for more than 30 years. The gala is an enchanting holiday wonderland filled with beautifully decorated trees that are auctioned off to guests. A life-long philanthropist, Wyatt volunteers her time and resources to a wide range of organizations carrying on her family’s legacy of giving. 

“I was raised by my family to give back to the community in any way I can,” Wyatt says. “It’s very important to give back.”

During the holidays, Wyatt will be celebrating at the family ranch, a precious tradition she values year after year. Wyatt is as well-known for her fashion sense as she is for her philanthropic work, so it’s no surprise that she describes her style with her signature panache. 

“My style is class with a little dash but never trash,” Wyatt says. 

Wyatt is wearing a Trina Turk blouse, Ralph Lauren skirt, Jimmy Choo shoes and B Low the Belt accessory. 

Sara Black wearing an Elliatt dress from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Sara Black — Trees of Hope Vice President of Events

Community involvement has always been a priority for Sara Black and her family, but when Trees of Hope approached her about serving as the Vice President of Events, she knew it was an especially meaningful opportunity. 

“Being a mother, you experience first-hand how truly innocent a child is. The children don’t have a choice,” Black says. “I’m excited to give back in a more personal manner.” Trees of Hope events include the annual Holiday Gala, a wine tasting and of course, the annual tree decorating day.

In addition to Trees of Hope, Black and her family also volunteer with The Arthritis Foundation and Friends for Life. ‘Tis the season for holiday traditions and Black counts family time with extended family, watching The Nutcracker at the Wortham Theater Center and celebrating Christmas morning as some of her most treasured ways to spend the holidays. 

When it comes to fashion, Black is two sides of the same coin. 

“My husband would say, my daily style consists of a “puffy shoulder” shirt, jeans and cute flats,” Black says. “As we’ve begun attending charity events more frequently and I need to dress up, I like to go all out.” 

Black is wearing an Elliatt dress from Tootsies. 

Ashley Hull
Ashley Boyd wearing an Alice + Olivia sweater and Tootsies shoes. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Ashley Boyd — Trees of Hope Board of Trustees Member

As a member of the Board of Trustees of Trees of Hope, Ashley Boyd knows just how important fundraising and outreach are to the organization, and the difference volunteering can make on vulnerable populations. 

“COVID-19 has put more families at risk of homelessness, leaving so many children more vulnerable than ever. No child should be burdened with a lack of housing, food, or access to health care, and yet for so many, this is their reality,” Boyd says. “I pray daily that we can make a difference in the lives of these precious people.” 

Boyd and the other board members are dedicated to supporting the many Star of Hope initiatives including those that reach Houston’s homeless youth and benefit the children’s programs at the Star of Hope, a Christ-centered mission for the homeless.  

That same love of community extends to Boyd’s family, where she revels in special holiday traditions with her loved ones.

“I look forward to decorating the Christmas tree with my family and getting all of the ornaments out and looking through them with my daughters. They love helping me place the ornaments and also like picking a few special ones to add to their collection on the small trees we have in their bedrooms,” Boyd says. “My son is just there for the hot chocolate, but enjoys the time nonetheless!” 

Boyd said she leans toward a style that is timeless and chic, but she favors comfort too. She is wearing an Alice + Olivia sweater and Tootsies shoes. 

Kory Blum
Kory Blum, Trees of Hope Gala Chair wearing a Nicole Bakti dress from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Kory Blum – Trees of Hope Board of Trustees Member

Kory Blum remembers a time as a child when she and her family benefited from the kindness and support of others. That memory and her commitment to advocate for children serve as inspiration to work with Trees of Hope. 

“This drive to serve started at a young age my mother said. She was a single mom, who worked two jobs. There was a season we needed assistance and lived with my grandmother. Unfortunately, there are too many that don’t have the support of family and I’ll always have a yearning to help them,” Blum said.

The mother and interior designer is currently serving on the Trees of Hope Board of Trustees for the second year and is passionate about raising funds for Star of Hope programs, as well as the collateral damage associated with homeless children.

“Not only do I find it imperative to help advocate for children that are homeless, but also when they become victims and fall prey to human traffickers. I’ve been watching awareness increase significantly in the six years since I first participated in “Dressember”. Wearing a dress, rain or shine, with other participants all over the world the entire month of December has raised more than $13 million to help rescue, equipped and empower those trafficked,” Blum said.

Blum and her family regularly volunteer together, working with the Houston Astros Foundation and the Houston Food Bank, but she said her fondest efforts were after Hurricane Harvey, mucking houses after the storm. 

Cultivating a spirit of generosity of time and talents within her family is a priority Blum treasures.

“Aside from being a mother, I am most fulfilled when serving. I want to teach my children the value and importance of being the hands and feet of Christ,” Blum said.

Every family has special holiday traditions, and the Blum family has their own spin on the season.

“My favorite tradition by far is when “Santa” wraps the room around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. He’s done it every year and it still continues to be as exciting for our four teenage daughters. It’s how we’ve started every Christmas morning, like tearing through a giant present!” Blum said. “We also make a birthday cake for Jesus and love the River Oaks Christmas lights.”

Blum’s design eye informs her daily style, describing her look as very casual, functional and minimalistic. When she’s not in jeans, sneakers and a blazer, Blum amps up the glam.

“When it comes to events, I gravitate toward a more glamorous look. I love old Hollywood, in fact, two of my daughters are named after Hollywood icons,” Blum said. “The Nicole Bakti dress (worn in this shoot) made me feel like Audrey Hepburn.” 

DeeDee Marsh wearing an Oscar de la Renta coat and Yves Saint Laurent shoes from Tootsies.  (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Dee Dee Marsh — Trees of Hope Advisory Board Member

Dee Dee Marsh is a current member of the Trees of Hope Advisory Board and served as a past president of the Board of Trustees. Marsh draws her volunteering inspiration from a Houston legend, also known for their giving nature. 

“I once heard Mattress Mac say ‘If not you, then who, and that always stuck with me. Children have the least control of their circumstances and they all are born with great potential — they deserve the best chance we can give them,” Marsh says. “They are our future and I believe it is our obligation to help them succeed and be happy, which is why most of the charities I am involved with are child and education focused.”

Marsh knows Trees of Hope has a big mission that is often realized in small, yet meaningful ways.  

“Trees Of Hope gives them the joy of a new pair of shoes, a special toy, or helping them with a Mother’s Day gift for their mom. It gives them HOPE that there are brighter days ahead.” 

Marsh finds great joy in the simple elements of the holidays, including the warm glow of lights and gathering of family. 

“Christmas lights are a must, the more the better, as are multiple trees throughout the house; and the whole family is always home on Christmas Eve,” Marsh says about her favorite holiday traditions. 

When it comes to a personal sense of style, Marsh knows exactly what she likes. 

“I’m traditional with a touch of drama, which is what the Oscar de la Renta tulle Opera coat I’m wearing exemplifies perfectly.” Marsh is wearing an Oscar de la Renta coat and Yves Saint Laurent shoes from Tootsies. 

Ashley Petersen wearing an Alice + Olivia dress from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Ashley Petersen — Trees of Hope Board Member

Ashley Petersen finds great joy in the action of volunteering and creating a legacy of encouraging others. She’s a second-year board member of Trees of Hope, and collaborated with other board members to jumpstart the inaugural Trees of Hope Jr. program for children of current board members who want to make a difference in the lives of other families.

“Volunteering is as important to me as is the act of serving others that brings true, raw, authentic happiness,” Petersen says.

Creating and maintaining traditions are among Petersen’s favorite holiday rites of passage, too.

“One of my favorite holiday traditions is to buy each family member a new ornament every year that best describes what was important to them during that particular year of life,” Petersen says. “We enjoy reminiscing about the ornaments every year.” 

Petersen describes her personal sense of style as, “on the cusp of edgy but still classy.” She is wearing an Alice + Olivia dress from Tootsies. 

Jo Ann Petersen wearing a Valentino sweater, skirt and shoes from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Jo Ann Peterson — Trees of Hope Underwriting Chair

Gratitude is at the heart of Jo Ann Petersen’s volunteering work. She serves as the Trees of Hope Underwriting Chair. 

“I have been very fortunate in life and want to good back to those who much less fortunate and give an opportunity for a better life,” Peterson says.

Every holiday season is a memorable one for Peterson and her family, filled with their own spin on holiday fun. 

“For Thanksgiving, I love my family gatherings at my sister’s home. We gather together and play games. It is a family tradition of interaction, competition and laughter,” Peterson says. “We have an Easter egg hunt with money in plastic eggs.”

When it comes to her personal style preferences, Peterson favors “simple clothes that are well designed and last through all the style trends.” Peterson is wearing a Valentino sweater, skirt and shoes from Tootsies. 

Rachel Gower Tootsies
Rachel Gower wearing a Nicole Miller dress from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Rachel Gower — Trees of Hope Advisory Board Member

If you’re looking for a way to tap into true happiness, Rachel Gower freely shares her method to find personal joy. 

“I’ve always believed that the way to find true happiness is to help someone else find happiness. Whenever I’m feeling stagnant in my life, I try to revisit this tenant and it never fails to inspire and motivate me,” Gower says.

She is also motivated by the great work Trees of Hope does in the community, serving for the past six years as a member of the Board of Trustees and most recently as a member of the Advisory Board.  

“Trees of Hope will always have my heart because of its involvement with children who are most in need. The impact that this organization has on these precious lives will always keep me involved!”

Her holiday happiness centers around her twins, who will be home from college and the traditions they all enjoy together. 

“To me, the holidays are all about family. I will be savoring every moment with them including the Memorial Area Holiday Traditions Event, overeating at family gatherings, and our annual Family Christmas Challenge,” Gower says.

As style-savvy mom and businesswoman, Gower has perfected her aesthetic, but she’s open to trying new colors too. 

“My personal style is a combination of what works for my body and the current trends. I can spot a trend that is not meant for me a mile away,” Gower says. “I usually have to force myself to expand beyond my predominantly black wardrobe, so this beautiful blue Nicole Miller dress from Tootsies is the perfect choice for the holiday season and it literally fits like a glove!”

Gower is wearing a Nicole Miller dress from Tootsies. 

Lesha-Elsenbrook Tootsies
Lesha Elsenbrook wearing an Andrew Gn blouse and Lafayette 148 pants from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Lesha Elsenbrook — Trees of Hope Advisory Board Member

Lesha Elsenbrook has been applying her business acumen to charitable organizations for years, supporting many of Houston’s most important groups in a hands-on way.  

She serves on the Advisory Board for Trees of Hope, as well as the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, the Trailblazers and International Houston Rodeo Committees, and she’s chairing the Spring Spirit Breakfast in February 2022. Volunteering is a labor of love, and one she enjoys, although as a newly minted grandmother, she’s contemplating cutting back just a bit. 

“I’ve been so fortunate to be able to be a ‘full time’ volunteer since leaving the workforce many years ago. Using my business background to help charities was a perfect way to give back,” Elsenbrook says.

A new grandbaby makes the holiday season even more special this year, and Elsenbrook is looking forward to creating new memories, decorating to the hilt and throwing her annual Christmas party with high school friends. 

“I’m a huge decorations person! I have three trees in my house and I decorate every square inch. I have nutcracker collections, Santa collections and nativity collections,” Elsenbrook says. “But having my family here and the candlelight service on Christmas Eve is the highlight. And now we have a new grandbaby to experience everything with!”

When it comes to personal style, Elsenbrook prefers classics with a touch of fun. 

“Give me great white shirt or a beautiful sweater and a tailored pair of pants and I feel great. But for special occasions, I love something fun — like the feathers on the blouse I’m wearing.” Elsenbrook is wearing an Andrew Gn blouse and Lafayette 148 pants from Tootsies. 

Kelli Weinzierl, Trees of Hope Advisory Board Member, wears Hellessy blouse, Vince pants and Valentino shoes from Tootsies. (Photo by Al Torres Photography)

Kelli Weinzierl — Trees of Hope Advisory Board Member

One only needs to read Kelli Weinzierl life’s motto to understand her deep dedication to volunteering and the service of others. Her list of community involvement includes serving on the Trees of Hope Advisory Board as well as being a board member of Houston Museum of Natural Science and Houston Ballet (she is chairing the 2022 Ballet Ball).

Other educational and philanthropic endeavors include The University of Texas at Austin, The Houston Zoo, The Children’s Assessment Center and the Champagne Cowgirls, a women-led Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo buying group. 

“As Billy Graham said, ‘God has given us two hands, one to receive and the other to give with,'” Weinsierl says. “Nothing makes me happier than doing for and giving to others.” 

Weinzierl welcomes the holidays with family traditions and the simple wonders of the season. 

“We like to decorate the tree with our special ornaments that each have meaning to our family, drive around looking at lights and wrapping presents with nostalgic package decorations collected over the years,” Weinzierl says. 

When it comes to style, Weinzierl describes herself as classic with an edge. She is wearing a Hellessy blouse, Vince pants and Valentino shoes from Tootsies.