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Refugee kids decorate their first gingerbread houses!


Arriving at After School Club on Thursday afternoon, more than 20 refugee children were astonished to find a table full of gingerbread houses ready to be decorated. There were bags of different colored icing, and all sorts of gum drops, red hots, M&Ms and more.

Jenna Baron, Executive Director of ARYSE, who partners with JFCS to run After School Club and train its mentors, noted that the usual horsing around and competition were noticeably absent as each child got to decorate a house.

These children of refugees have been getting introduced to lots of American customs and activities through After School Club, which began in January. Trained volunteer mentors help with homework and English language skills as well. But the fun days bring awe as well as pleasure. Yes, the houses were for them and they could take them home. And yes, they are edible!

Speaking of edible, not all of the icing and candy made it on to the gingerbread houses!

Andrew Van Treeck, Volunteer Coordinator at JFCS Refugee and Immigrant Services, says these After School Club days are the sweetest. “Children who have often been through situations and upheaval few of us could imagine, are getting to know their new country, making friends, and keeping up with their schoolwork in their sometimes very recent second language. It’s hard. But days like this are magic.”

JFCS is indebted to Heather Wright who donated all the house pieces and assembled them, and also donated all the icing and decorations!