HSP’s Gingerbread Village Festival to benefit Carroll County’s homeless shelters

Clients at CHANGE, Inc. design a gingerbread hobbit house to enter in Human Services Programs of Carroll County's annual Gingerbread Village Festival fundraiser.

Carefully piping green, sticky icing onto the foundation of their gingerbread hobbit hole, individuals at CHANGE, Inc. expressed excitement to compete in the Human Services Programs of Carroll County’s third annual Gingerbread Village Festival.

“It’s going to be such a masterpiece!” exclaimed Tifani Helmstetter, of Taneytown.


Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc., in partnership with Westminster Church of the Brethren, invites the community to visit and vote during the festival which raises awareness and funding for Carroll County’s five homeless shelters. The event coincides with National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week.

Voting will be held in the Winchester Exchange Building at 15 E. Main Street (across from Westminster Library) from Friday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Nov. 25 after the downtown holiday parade. The display will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25. Raffle and prize winners will be announced via HSP’s website and Facebook page on Sunday, Nov. 26.

HSP’s volunteer and special projects coordinator Stephanie Averett said the festival was moved from TownMall at Westminster to across from the library “to be part of the downtown holiday events.”

“It’s a fun event that brings attention to the plight of the homeless in our community,” Averett said. “The houses from previous years have been astonishing and we’re looking forward to seeing the creativity that people bring to the event this year.”

Victoria Minkowski, a program coordinator for CHANGE, said their team is “going for something different.” Minkowski said 80 people voted on the design, deciding between a castle, a tree house, hobbit hole, or a lighthouse.

She said more than 40 individuals from the organization’s various programs will take part in the building process. Together they looked up a gingerbread recipe and researched the best icing glue to use.

“I like to use my motor skills to spread the icing,” said Jessica Zuback, of Woodbine.

They also went to the store as a group to pick out ingredients and spent a week baking and cutting the house’s pieces.

“It’s a lot of fun building it. I’m looking forward to finishing the second half,” said David Mazziott, of Westminster.

Added Lauren Beyder, of Taneytown: “I like getting my hands dirty.”

Minkowski said they wanted to make the gingerbread hobbit hole look as realistic as possible.

“This year we decided to go all out and try really hard to be competitive. We’re doing a bigger, harder project and they’re giving it their all,” she said. “It’s definitely a big undertaking but I think we can pull it off.”