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Gingerbread auction raises more than $25,000

A fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lawrence raises big money

By Nathan Fordyce

Building a gingerbread house can be a simple concept or it could quickly transpire into a lot more work and more of a challenge.

Lawrence residents Jena Dick and her friend Emily Baker decided they were going to build a Nutcracker gingerbread figurine for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Douglas County as part of their 18th annual gingerbread festival and auction on Dec. 5.  But as Dick and Baker started making the figurine, the challenge of the process became clear.

“It was just too hard. He’ll start falling over, he dove off the counter top. It was just a disaster,” Dick said. “I found it something to be fun, but a good way to raise money for a good cause and I like that.”

Lawrence residents Jena Dick and Emily Baker constructed Nutcracker Nick out of a potato, lasagna noodles, rice cakes and other materials. This is the fourth year Dick has made a gingerbread figurine for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Lawrence residents Jena Dick and Emily Baker constructed Nutcracker Nick out of a potato, lasagna noodles, rice cakes and other materials. This is the fourth year Dick has made a gingerbread figurine for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Photo by Nathan Fordyce

The community-wide event raised over $25,000 for the non-profit organization.

The event featured decorative designs from the kids within Big Brothers and Big Sisters to outsiders who wanted to contribute something more decorative and creative. Executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Douglas County, Stacie Salverson-Shroeder said the event is a unique opportunity for the whole community to be involved.

“We open it up for the community and it’s for people who are creative and like to do that kind of thing and give back to us. It’s a unique kind of niche because no one else does it,” Salverson-Shroeder said.  “And nothing says the holidays like gingerbreads. It’s an unique opportunity to get involved.”

This was Dick’s fourth year making a gingerbread for Big Brothers Big Sisters after her mom told her about it. In her previous years, Dick had constructed a Santa driving a forklift with presents, a carousel horse and Santa coming down a fireplace.

But this year, she wanted to do something different and creative. Cue Nutcracker Nick.

While using a potato for a head, french bread for the body and candy canes for the arms, Dick quickly learned that thinking outside the box isn’t the best thing, but it can still be fun.

“I figured if it’s different it will at least be fun. If I made a house, I’m sure it wouldn’t be as fun. But that’s the whole point of it is, coming up with something different and fun,” Dick said.

The construction of the Nutcracker took over 10 hours, but some of the time spent was trying to rebuild the figurine after it had taken a tumble.

“We put him together the same night as the Powerball was being announced. So we left the room to listen to the numbers and we hear a crash and he dove off the counter,” Dick said.

Even with the all the tough process of putting together a creative mind, Dick’s and Baker’s Nutcracker auctioned off for $150. The amount they raised, Dick said was reasonable.

“This year I was hoping someone would bid on him. By the time of the auction, he was starting to lean a little bit. I was just happy we raised a little money,” Dick said.

The most profitable gingerbread houses came from the outside community. Clark Fulton, a Lawrence native, created the St. Basil’s Cathedral from Moscow as his elegant gingerbread house. The Cathedral raised the most money for the organization as it went for $2,700.

Clark Fulton, Lawrence native, built St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow out of dried bread and jelly beans. The whole project took him over two and a half months to complete. Photo by Nathan Fordyce

Big Brothers Big Sisters had 24 gingerbread houses that were designed by outside people and 100 graham cracker houses from the Littles whom are within the organization.

The gingerbread auction coordinator Angela Stewart said the length of how long a house takes, varies between individuals.

“It depends on the builder and how meticulous they are. A lot of the gingerbread houses, which are a lot more detailed so they take more time,” Stewart said. “It depends on their style and how much details they put into it.”

Stewart also said since the auction has been going on for almost two decades, there are people within the Douglas County community that participate each year, and each year try to outdo what they accomplished the previous.

The donations that were brought in from the gingerbread auction will go toward keeping Big Brothers Big Sisters operational and allowing the organization to continue to keep finding matches for the children of Douglas County.

Dick said the auction is a fun event and even though everything that is made is edible, somethings aren’t meant to be eaten.

“I would hope no one would try to eat Nick,” Dick said. “That’s kind of disgusting.”