Easter Seals Gingerbread Family Festival set for Dec. 8

The 12th annual Easter Seals Hawaii Gingerbread Family Festival will be presented 10 a.m.-noon Sunday, Dec. 8, at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin in Sangha Hall in Hilo.

Guests will participate in building and decorating gingerbread houses while enjoying other festive activities. Proceeds will benefit Easter Seals Hawaii’s programs and services in Hilo for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Easter Seals Hawaii is selling kits with everything to build and decorate two gingerbread houses, including gingerbread donated by Safeway, an array of assorted candies donated by CVS/Longs Drugs, gingerbread men donated by Hawai‘i Life and icing in three colors (red, white and green). Kits cost $29 and can be assembled onsite at the event or picked up to go.

People can buy kits online at gingerbreadhawaii.com or by phone, 24 hours a day, by calling 1-888-295-2626.

“It’s a heartwarming holiday event for the whole family,” said Debbie Sasan, Easter Seals Hawaii administrative assistant and lead organizer for this year’s event in Hilo. “We see parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles … everyone comes out with their kids and has a blast. And the best part is, you get to take your creation home afterwards. The cookies and candy last several days, but the memories last a lifetime.”

In addition to building gingerbread houses, this year’s event in Hilo includes a community competition where attendees can watch local businesses compete to create the best gingerbread house.

Last year’s festival netted more than $170,000 for Easter Seals Hawaii’s programs.

According to Christopher E. Blanchard, the state organization’s president and CEO, the organization hopes to increase that amount this year.

“We’re very grateful to our sponsors and volunteers who help us put on the Gingerbread Family Festival year after year and carry on a special holiday tradition for the community,” said Blanchard. “The festival truly captures Easter Seals Hawaii’s mission and the holiday spirit. It’s all about local families and the community coming together to help those with developmental disabilities get the support and services they need to live better, more independent lives.”

The 2013 Easter Seals Hawaii Gingerbread Family Festival is presented by The Harry &Jeanette Weinberg Foundation with title sponsorship from Safeway and CVS/Longs Drugs. In addition to the Hilo event Dec. 8, there are events on Oahu, Kauai and Maui.

To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Bill Markevitch at (808) 529-1727 or email bmarkevitch@eastersealshawaii.org. To volunteer, contact Nathan Okinaka at (808) 220-8874 or email nokinaka@hhok.org. Sponsorship and volunteer information is also available online at gingerbreadhawaii.com.

Established in 1946, Easter Seals Hawaii is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization offering 22 service programs on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Lanai and Hawaii Island.

During Easter Seals Hawaii’s 67-year history, the organization has served and made a profound difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities or special needs, and has provided resources and support to their families. Easter Seals Hawaii is the state’s largest provider of Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers and is one of the state’s largest providers of Medicaid Waiver services for adults with developmental disabilities.

Easter Seals Hawaii’s programs are accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), assuring the organization meets internationally accepted standards. For more information, visit eastersealshawaii.org.


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