Rotary Hosts First Annual Gingerbread-Making Event

The program invited kindergarten through third graders from the Sacred Heart school in Camden to attend the event.

Left to right, Zayniyah Mercado, Reyna Barr and Myeavnnia Chandler of the Sacred Heart school in Camden pose together at the first annual gingerbread-making event at the Moorestown Community House on Monday, Nov. 7.

Gingerbread houses are a staple of the holiday season, and this year a special group of children were given the opportunity to decorate gingerbread masterpieces of their own. On Monday, Nov. 7 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Moorestown Lunch Club Rotary sponsored its first annual gingerbread-making event at the Moorestown Community House with help from a local teacher.

“My son, Milan Pazienza, goes to Moorestown Friends School and Diane Vavricka was one of his teachers. We were hanging out with Diane one afternoon and she was telling us about her passion of making gingerbread houses,” Sylvia Bidwell, a Rotarian, said. “I told her I was in the Rotary and that this sounded like a great joint project.”

Vavricka, a pre-kindergarten teaching assistant at the Moorestown Friends School, has always wanted to give back to the community and has enjoyed building gingerbread houses with her nephew, JD Scarpa, and family for years.

“I’m glad we could do this because some of these kids don’t get to [make gingerbread houses] very often,” Scarpa said. “I thought it would be nice to share this with [the students.]”

Excited to share this holiday event with kids, especially those who maybe never had the opportunity to make gingerbread houses before, she decided to help lead in the organization and production of this event. She hoped to help children bring their creations home to their family to start their own holiday tradition.

“[JD and I] talk, laugh and have fun putting icing on the gingerbread house and lots of candy decorations. He eats a lot of it along the way,” Vavricka said. “In the last few years, we’ve talked about doing this with children who have not had the opportunity to decorate a gingerbread house.”

To find local children to invite to the event, Bidwell reached out to Ann Baiada, a member and past board member of the Moorestown Rotary Club and the Moorestown Community House. Baiada regularly volunteers with Sacred Heart School in Camden and, as the connections came together, the organizers chose to invite kindergarten through third graders from the school to attend. On the day of the event, approximately 25 kids were bused from the school to the Community House.

“This is my second time making a gingerbread house, the last time I did I was just a little baby,” Myeavnnia Chandler, an 8-year-old student at the Sacred Heart School in Camden, said. “I was most excited about the candy because you get to stick it to the house.”

As the kids sat together at long tables, they were shown how to use icing to make the pieces of candy stick to their gingerbread houses. They were presented with a variety of candies and treats, such as marshmallows, candy canes and cereal to help create delicious works of art while a number of volunteers were present to assist the children.

At the end of the event, children showed off their gingerbread houses to each other while enjoying the candy at their tables. Proving to be a successful gathering and overall fun experience for the children and organizers alike, Vavricka hopes to continue this event in the years to come.

“I think what this event does is it brings me back to my childhood and the holidays with my family. It makes me so happy inside,” Vavricka said. “I would love if all these children could continue this tradition, as it is a way of reaching out and sharing around the holidays.”