Buddy Program builds bonds with gingerbread in Carbondale
Who better to help build your dream gingerbread house than Santa?
More than 50 children, and dozens of mentors and high school-age volunteers, filled the auditorium at the Third Street Center Saturday to build gingerbread houses, and, hopefully, relationships to last a lifetime.
The event was part of the Buddy Program’s weekend of gingerbread house events in Aspen and Carbondale.
The gingerbread event “started in Aspen with Helen Fifield as the hostess to decorate the houses. Jim Fifield, her husband, helped us with the fundraising,” said Lyndsay Lofaro, executive director of the Buddy Program.
Seven years after those humble beginnings, the Buddy Program’s gingerbread events have flourished.
“This year, we raised over $100,000 in sponsorship for the whole weekend,” Fifield said.
The goal of the event is “to be together, have fun, and have no barriers to that fun,” Lofaro said.
This is the second year the event has come to Carbondale’s Third Street Center, for the “buddy” pairs down-valley.
“Our goal is to help them improve their self-esteem, make sure they’re making healthy choices in their lives, (that) they’re connected to school, and staying in school, and also connected to adults in the community who care about them,” Lofaro said.
The Buddy Program began in Aspen in 1973, and gradually has spread its mentoring programs to surrounding communities.
The Buddy Program helps more than 400 kids per year, according to Lofaro.
The gingerbread decoration events are part of the youth mentoring programs within the Buddy Program. Some young people are paired with adults to meet monthly, and others, weekly.
“Any activities we can provide to our big and little buddies to do, at no charge, is really helpful,” Lofaro said.
Decorating gingerbread houses also gives the students a chance to build relationships with others within mentoring pairs.
“It connects them to each other. It connects them to the bigger community of buddies,” Lofaro said.
It also allows the students to stretch creative muscles.
“I think it gives the kids an opportunity to think about art in a different way,” Lofaro said.
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