UMSL’s own helps decorate White House for holidays

UMSL staff member Donna Carothers was one of 85 volunteers selected to help decorate the White House for the holiday season. Here she is at the southeast entrance.

When it comes to decking the halls, the White House could use some help. Each year volunteers from across the country are recruited to drape garland and hang ornaments throughout the residence. This year the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ own Donna Carothers, assistant director in the Office of Alumni and Community Relations, was asked to lend a helping hand.

Carothers was selected as a volunteer decorator after submitting an application showcasing her floral design skills to the White House. She was one of just 85 volunteers nationwide to receive an invitation.

When White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard contacted Carothers to volunteer, she recalls being “completely overjoyed” and “very honored.”

“I was proud to represent my home state and privileged to serve the first family during this holiday season,” said Carothers.

This year’s theme is “Joy to All,” as chosen by first lady Michelle Obama.

“It celebrates the many joys of the holiday seasons: the joy of giving and service to others; the joy of sharing our blessings with one another; and, of course, the joy of welcoming our friends and families as guests into our homes over these next several weeks” Obama said at the holiday press preview on Nov. 28.

In total, the volunteers decorated about 54 trees and public areas within the White House. Carothers’ team was responsible for decorating the East Room, the largest in the house. It included four 15 foot-tall trees. Other areas pay tribute to the holiday legacies of former first ladies, while others honor the service and sacrifice of the armed forces and their families with red, white and blue ornaments and ribbons.

“I’ve made many new friends and cherish the opportunity to have worked closely with some of the best designers and artisans across America,” said Carothers. “It was an unforgettable experience, a dream come true.”

For more information on the White House décor, visit Joy to All: First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2012 White House Holiday Décor, or watch the “White House Christmas 2012” television special on HGTV. It will be airing throughout December. Check local listings for show times and dates.

And watch Bo, the first dog, make a final inspection of the White House holiday decorations in the video below.


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