Sweet Creations Help Habitat for Humanity Build Homes
by Emily Merrell, photography by Lindsey Spencer
This holiday season, members of the community can show their support for Habitat for Humanity of Northeast Arkansas by voting for their favorite cookie creation in the nonprofit’s second annual Gingerbread House Competition.
Businesses and individuals can enter the competition by paying an entrance fee and are invited to build their masterpieces at a build party to be held Dec. 4 at Story Coffee House. Following the build party, gingerbread houses will be on display for more than two weeks at Story, where supporters can vote on their favorite entries. Trophies (and bragging rights) will be awarded to a People’s Choice winner and a Judge’s Panel winner. Proceeds from the Gingerbread House Competition will help Habitat for Humanity continue to offer accessibility to affordable homeownership and home repairs to families in Northeast Arkansas.
Habitat for Humanity recently expanded into a more regional role, now serving not only the Greater Jonesboro area, but extending services into Paragould, as well. Angy Abaunza, the nonprofit’s newly appointed executive director, says she is looking forward to continuing her role at Habitat for Humanity and helping the organization grow.
“I am honored for the opportunity to serve our current and future homeowners as Habitat for Humanity’s executive director,” said Abaunza. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with existing partners, as well as continuing to forge new partnerships that will enhance Habitat’s impact in the community by providing accessibility to aﬀordable homeownership and home repairs.
“Our team is in the process of strategizing the 2024 programming year, and I am excited to be part of Habitat as we continue to seek to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Most importantly, (we want) to improve equitable access to adequate, affordable and sustainable housing in our community. With the expansion of the service area to Paragould, we are starting to provide our homeownership program, and in 2024, we are going to build three new homes for qualified families in need. As we continue to grow, we envision to continue expanding our service area throughout Northeast Arkansas.”
David Hunter, Habitat for Humanity’s board president, says his favorite part of his role with the organization is seeing the difference it makes for families in need.
“Habitat for Humanity provides homes for families who have always dreamed of owning their own home but never thought they would,” said Hunter. “I have seen some of the conditions that some of our families have been living in prior to getting their home, and to see the joy it brings to these families to be able to own their own home, it just makes you happy.”
Abaunza says her favorite part of the Gingerbread House Competition is getting to see all the creative entries.
“There are no limits to creativity,” she said. “As long as the competition rules are followed, participants can build their beautiful creations. Christmas time is the best time of the year, getting some hot chocolate and sneaking a piece of candy or two while creating your masterpiece would be the best. Families and businesses can get their team together to build a gingerbread house.”
“This is a great and festive way to donate to Habitat for Humanity,” added Hunter. “You can be an amateur or a professional decorator, it doesn’t matter. It’s the people’s vote, and the one they like best will win.”
As for the secret to building an award-winning gingerbread house, Hunter has some advice for builders: “The icing is the secret – it holds it all together.”
Gingerbread houses in the competition will be available for viewing at Story Coffee House, 801 S. Gee St., from Dec. 5-21. Votes are $1 each. People’s Choice and Judge’s Panel Choice winners will be announced on Dec. 23. For more information on Habitat’s Gingerbread House Competition and other upcoming events, visit jonesborohabitat.com or follow Habitat for Humanity of NEA on Facebook.