By David Fleet
Goodrich-Laurie McAbee has just completed a sweet construction project that’s lasted for a quarter of a century.
For the past 28 years McAbee has been a Girl Scout leader for Goodrich Troop #31 and for 25 of those years helped engineer the creation of more than 8,000 gingerbread houses.
“It’s four graham crackers per one house,” laughed McAbee. “I just start buying a lot of boxes of graham crackers—I’ve cleared stores out over the years.”
So when the Christmas season comes around McAbee cuts enough graham crackers for 350 houses and invites all interested Girl Scouts from southeastern Michigan to create gingerbread houses. The scouts started gathering at the Davison United Methodist Church, then eight years ago moved the project to the Goodrich United Methodist Church.
McAbee, gleaned the idea for mass building of gingerbread houses started when she was a librarian for the Flint Public Library where she worked in the business and industry center, then later in the children’s section. She retired after 40 years.
“Years ago the library had a children’s project to build gingerbread houses so I helped,” she said. “I decided to bring the same idea to the Goodrich Girl Scouts.”
In addition to the graham crackers the construction materials include one cup of frosting per home and a variety of colorful candy. The small houses are built around 1/2 pint paper milk cartons.
“When we started years ago we collected the cartons from the school lunches,”she said. “It was a great way to teach recycling, but the schools went to plastic (cartons) and we did not have them any more. At one time McDonald Dairy would donate the cartons, but they went out of business. Just the past two years schools went back to paper cartons.”
“Some of the girls get very creative and incorporate ice cream cones and even Halloween candy,” she said. “It’s always been one of the biggest events of the year where moms and daughters make the event a tradition to kick off the holiday season. Over the past 25 years families would come back and build the gingerbreads houses. Many would come build houses as Daisies and leave as Scouts—many made lifelong friends there.”
McAbee will stay with scouts, but said it’s time to let someone else take over the project.