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Halifax café bakes ‘a little holiday help’ for Laing House

The Old Apothecary hosts a gingerbread house fundraiser for youth mental health

3 min read
caption Katie MacLeod poses in front of her gingerbread house at The Old Apothecary Bakery and Café on Monday.
Hollie Uffindell

People in Halifax have a chance to consume their favourite landmark — in gingerbread form — to help youth living with both mental health illness and challenges.

The Old Apothecary Bakery and Café is hosting its first auction to raise money for Laing House, a drop-in mental health centre for youth aged 16 to 29, this week.

Each member of the café’s staff, including bakers and baristas, spent approximately 18 hours baking, icing, assembling and decorating distinctive gingerbread houses to auction for the organization, said café manager Katie MacLeod.

These nine gingerbread creations include replicas of Laing House, Citadel Clock Tower and the Halifax Central Library.

caption Gingerbread houses for auction at The Old Apothecary Bakery and Café.
Hollie Uffindell

MacLeod and her mother, café owner Laura MacLeod, have been supporters of Laing House and the Canadian Mental Health Association since their business opened in May 2015.

“We really think that, especially this year, they’re two very important causes,” said Katie MacLeod. “Everybody’s having a rough year and to have those resources be taken away is a struggle for everyone.”

Being a drop-in centre, Laing House had to hit pause on operations once the COVID-19 pandemic started. This prompted The Old Apothecary’s mother-daughter duo to find a way to bring what MacLeod calls “a little holiday help” to the organization.

“I feel like they were hit a little bit harder” than the Canadian Mental Health Association, said MacLeod. “So, we wanted to really focus our energy on Laing House.”

The idea to make gingerbread houses came about as a team-building exercise back in August when staff members were newly out of quarantine. It was a way for them to “bring everybody back to that team aspect” and focus on something in the future, MacLeod said.

Many members of The Old Apothecary’s staff need or have needed mental health resources in the past, said MacLeod. This year they wanted to participate in a “festive, fun and creative” morale-boosting activity for a good cause.

“I think it’s important to pick organizations that work with your entire team,” said MacLeod.

Laing House is a non-profit organization that relies on donations and fundraisers to keep their services available to their members. When The Old Apothecary contacted them about the gingerbread house auction, they were “very excited,” said Laing House community support worker Jan Davison.

“They’ve always been fans of Laing House,” said Davison. “I think they’re strong ambassadors for youth mental health.”

The gingerbread house fundraiser started Monday and runs until next Monday. MacLeod said all proceeds of the auction will be donated to Laing House.

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