HSP needs volunteer Carroll County gingerbread house builders for upcoming festival

HSP needs volunteer Carroll County gingerbread house builders for upcoming festival
Program coordinator Victoria Minkowski, works with, from left, Tifani Helmstetter, David Mazziott and Jess Zuback as they create a gingerbread hobbit house, their entry in HSP's 2017 Gingerbread Village Festival at CHANGE, Inc. in Westminster. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc., is looking for volunteer gingerbread house builders for its upcoming fourth annual Gingerbread Village Festival, to be held Nov. 16 through Nov. 24 in Westminster.

The start of the festival coincides with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and will also help raise awareness of homelessness in Carroll County, and what HSP does to help mitigate it, according to Director of Marketing and Outreach Matt Peregoy.


“It’s a great family event — bring the kids out, look at the fun creations — but it also gives you a chance to talk about the services HSP provides,” he said. “As people are enjoying the event they can also educate themselves and read about things they may not know are happening in their own neighborhood.”

Those interested in designing and building their own unique gingerbread house for the event should contact Peregoy at 410-376-6648 or no later than Friday, Nov. 9.

“We only have room for 30 houses, so if folks want to get involved, the earlier they get their stuff to us the better,” he said. “We’ve seen amazing creativity — everything from a RV to a hobbit house to an Eiffel Tower.”

The Westminster office of Janney Montgomery Scott, for instance, is working on a gingerbread Carroll County barn scene, according to financial adviser Coleen Kramer Beal. The office also participated in 2016.

“We each have an assignment of pieces to bake at home. We’ll be bringing those pieces together at our manager’s house on Sunday to construct our project together,” she said. “I love Christmas and love being able to give back to those in need. We start the project at home with our families, so we can share some holiday merriment together and share with our kids the importance of helping our community.”

The 30 gingerbread houses will be on display 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. — except for Sunday, Nov. 18, and Thanksgiving Day — at the Winchester Exchange Building,15 E. Main St. in Westminster, where the public can vote on their favorites for $1 a vote.

The festival will also include a raffle for a wooden play structure shaped like an antique truck, which is currently on display at the Westminster Downtown Farmer’s Market lot along Md. 27, according to Peregoy. “We are doing this as a fundraiser, so we are using funds to get those that are homeless back on their feet,” he said.

HSP operates four shelters in Carroll County, including the seasonal cold weather, as well as rapid rehousing services and other programs to help keep people housed and out of shelters and in their homes, according to Peregoy.

The Gingerbread Village Festival launched four years ago when the Westminster Church of the Brethern approached HSP with the idea, according to Peregoy.

“The Westminster Church of the Brethren got involved with HSP's Gingerbread Village Festival out of a desire to the heighten awareness of congregation members as well as individuals within our community that there persons within Carroll County and Westminster who do not have a home in which to feel safe, warm and loved,” said Pastor Glenn McCrickard. “This was a creative and festive way to raise money for HSP programs that seek to make a difference in people's lives.”

The festival initially launched in TownMall of Westminster, but Peregoy said the event moved to the Winchester Exchange in 2017.

“We made the decision to move the event to downtown Westminster to be a bigger part of the holiday stuff that goes on,” he said. “We were able to get our location, which is really convenient — it’s right across the street from the library.”