Thoreau Lane in Allen is lined with modest brick homes, but one stands out this season.
"Welcome to the life-sized gingerbread house," Katy Kaufmann said.
Kaufmann has a home-based bakery business called Oh Jupiters! She wanted to thank her customers for their loyalty during the pandemic by building a small holiday backdrop in her yard to take photos.
Kaufmann's small idea spiraled to encompass the entire house and front yard, complete with cupcakes made from lampshades, and candy made from pool noodles.
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Friends, family and neighbors helped build the decorations and offered to contribute money for them. Kaufmann didn't want the money for herself.
"Have you considered making it a benefit for someone," Kaufmann said she was asked. "And I was like, 'Oh yes, and I have someone we could do that for.'"
It was Kaufmann's neighbor and friend, Hannah Gullory, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer last year. There is a QR code in Kaufmann's front yard for anyone who can and wants to donate to help Gullory. Kaufmann asked people to tag their photos with #sweethopehouse.
"Last Christmas I didn't know if I'd be here this Christmas," Gullory said wiping away tears. "It's truly been humbling for us to be on the receiving end."
Kaufmann said she's just paying it forward.
"It's easy to go, 'Oh wow, they're so wonderful they're doing this,' but maybe it's just an expression of the love we've received both from God and from our friends," Kaufmann said. "I hope it brings her joy, and I hope it feels like a great big hug."
"I love it," Gullory said sitting on a candy cane bench.