Over the years, one holiday event has given Niagara County residents of all ages a chance to give back to the community while making memories. Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity’s annual gingerbread decorating fundraiser gives local families the chance to design gumdrop roofs and licorice walkways for gingerbread houses as they support a local cause.
Since 1993, Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity has helped to build 27 homes in Niagara County, providing more than 100 local residents with a safe and affordable place to call home.
With the holidays approaching, Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity will hold its 24th annual “Holiday Village – A Gingerbread Production” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at St. Peter R.C. School on Center Street during the Lewiston Christmas Walk.
This year’s event promises to be the biggest in the organization’s history. In addition to decorating gingerbread houses, the group will offer a wide range of fun holiday activities for children of all ages, including keepsake ornament making, face painting, letters to Santa, and a story time featuring Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch, Niagara Falls Councilman Ezra Scott, and Lewiston-Porter Primary Education Center Principal Tamara Larson. Light refreshments will be sold such as hot chocolate, coffee, doughnuts, and Christmas cookies.
Additionally, gingerbread houses built and decorated by DiCamillo Bakery, artist Marolyn Corriere and baker Victoria Dudkowski will be raffled off.
A modest $5 donation gives families the chance to decorate and take home their own gingerbread house. All proceeds will go toward the cost of supporting the construction of new homes for families in Niagara Falls. Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity recently completed a rehabilitated home for a family on Orleans Avenue in Niagara Falls and will be breaking ground on a new project on 61st Street in the spring.
Ms. Niccola’s fourth grade class at Lewiston-Porter assembled this year’s gingerbread houses.
“The kids were such a huge help this year, they built more than 400 gingerbread homes. Some of them I think we could use at our build sites,” joked Marco Notaro, community outreach director of Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat is not a giveaway program. Partner families buy their homes at no profit to Niagara Area Habitat for Humanity. The economic model ensures hard-working, though low-income families can also have access to the benefits of homeownership without sacrificing savings for essential family needs, health care and higher education. Partner families commit to attend classes designed to teach them the basics of responsible homeownership in budgeting, credit counseling, home insurance, home maintenance, home repairs and good neighbor etiquette. By the time they move in, partner families “own” their homes like few others do. That’s because each family contributes a minimum of 500 hours of “sweat equity” in the construction of their home.
Habitat construction sites welcome volunteers from all walks of life, and partner families develop positive relationships with community members as they all work for a common goal. Families develop a sense of dignified community participation that poverty housing scarcely affords. They also contribute to the community’s tax rolls, which helps the local economy.
“We’re all about building stronger families,” Notaro said. “So an event like this, which provides an awesome day of fun for local families while helping us help other families access a safe and affordable home, is really a perfect match.”