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By Karen Hendricks, PR/Marketing Director

It might not be as dramatic as Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life, but an amazing holiday story is unfolding before our eyes at the Gettysburg Festival.  It revolves around children and the true Christmas spirit of giving—what better holiday themes are there?  

The Festival’s upcoming Gingerbread House Celebration, December 3 and 4, includes a Gingerbread House Workshop where children will be able to squeeze frosting and adorn gingerbread houses with gumdrops, Necco wafers, mints, candy canes and any other candies that aren’t popped into their mouths first.  Just imagining the scene brings the phrase “like a kid in a candy store” to mind. 

With that scene in our heads during an event planning meeting, one of our most generous sponsors and supporters, Phillip Murray, General Manager of the Gettysburg Hotel, hit upon a fantastic idea.  Mr. Murray suggested we ask area businesses or individuals to sponsor underprivileged children to attend the workshop—children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to create gingerbread houses this holiday season.  In fact, he reached for his checkbook on the spot, and declared that he would sponsor the first 10 children with a check for $150.  He has challenged friends, colleagues and business leaders to do the same.  As of today, two other community leaders have stepped forward and responded—Stephanie Stephan of the James Gettys Hotel and Ed Goldwalt of Mr. Ed’s Elephant Musuem & Candy Store.  

That means 30 area children (so far) will be creating gingerbread houses, along with holiday memories, thanks to their generosity and good will.  The event is also open to the public, at the cost of $15 to cover supplies, with nearly another 30 children signed up to date.

The next step:  I reached out to a contact at a local agency serving low-income families in hopes that she could help me find 30 children, quickly.  I left her a voicemail, followed by an e-mail, explaining our holiday offer.

She returned my call within the hour, sounding out-of-breath, excited, amazed.  Her weekly program was meeting that evening, and she was struggling to finalize some holiday plans for her group, comprised of families with children.  She was going out-of-town for more than a week, beginning with the Thanksgiving holiday.  She wanted to fulfill a request the children had made only the week before, and she was surfing the internet, trying to figure out how she was going to make it happen.

You see, at the previous week’s get-together, she asked the children for ideas for a holiday activity.  What would they like to do, or make, to celebrate the holiday season?  Their answer?  Make gingerbread houses.

There was silence on the phone, probably lasting only five seconds or so, but long enough for this moment of serendipity to send a spine-tingling chill down my back.  Who would have thought that little houses made of gingerbread cookies could hold the promise of such immense joy?

Golden Tickets a la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

So this week, we are creating “golden tickets” at the Gettysburg Festival and distributing them to children served by her agency and others.  If additional sponsors step forward, I’ll be glad to make a few more calls and brighten the holidays for area children… with gingerbread.