FROM CAROLINE THE COOKIE GIRL...@FORCUPSAKESNYC
I moved to Hoboken in 2011 completely by accident. The ex-h and I had just relocated from Singapore and whilst looking for somewhere to live in the city our agent asked if she could do a pick up in Hoboken and well, the rest is history. We lived here for a very brief time-got to experience Sandy- and then left in 2012 before returning again in 2015.
When I left in 2012 I cried about missing this place for MONTHS! I laugh about it now but I was seriously messed up about leaving. My friends kept saying to me ‘ it’s just a city’ WTF. And I kept saying’ It’s not just a city. It’s so much more.’
I loved everything about this place. I marveled at the parks, playgrounds, friends groups, baby friendly restaurants, the community that Hoboken residents have and the feeling that I felt present in this tiny town yet I was so close to NYC.
In 2015 we made the bold move to return to the US and now almost seven years later I could not think of anywhere else I’d rather live. My kids (now 12 and 11) are both in the public schools which I think are amazing, we love our local restaurants (I'm sure I single handedly kept Elysian alive during Covid) and I just love all the small businesses and the people that emerge from behind them.
Anyway, to say I love this town is an understatement - it sounds weird to say that but coming from a small run down city in third-world South Africa it feels like I’ve achieved something so monumental giving my kids the opportunity to grow up here. It's fun, safe and with so much on offer. They wince every time I even as threaten moving to California to get away from the cold!
Having grown up around so much poverty I’ve always tried to do as much as I can for communities and those less fortunate.
When Covid hit I was let go from my FT job and immediately my life became my part-time hustle -baking.
I started baking for healthcare workers donating cookies to the local hospitals and then suddenly out of nowhere began getting nominations and orders and was donating almost 1200 cookies a week. I baked for Flag Hoboken, Flag NYC and Flag CT. I had weekly drop offs with Jamaica Medical Centre, Queens Medical Centre and JC Medical centre and made around 2000 cookies for the Hudson County Senior Living facilities. Baking for non-profit is the most rewarding thing I can think of and if I didn’t have two kids to feed I’d do it all the time.
During Covid I also stumbled on hardship wondering how I would pay my rent or feed my kids. (Single self-supporting mom here)
I didn't receive unemployment and baking was and needed to be my lifeline. Things were good but things were also sometimes really hard. I was pulling all -nighters baking for three days straight and I ended up in the ER twice suffering from - Im sure- over working , stress and anxiety.
In July last year I hit an all time low. It was summer, the town had disappeared to shore houses , orders were slow and just when I wondered how I could continue, a force of Hoboken Moms- many of whom I had never met- stepped in and saved me.
I am eternally grateful!!
I’ve continued to make this 'baking' my full time gig (for now) but I still always feel like I have so much to give back or do for those who are less fortunate than myself. I need to pass on the good karma that came my way.
So, I had a crazy idea to raise as much money as I could for the Hoboken Shelter, Food Pantry and Hoboken Public Education Foundation by building the WORLDS LARGEST GINGERBREAD VILLAGE!
I was going to build Hoboken out of Gingerbread!
As my idea evolved I met - obviously through cookies- the incredible James Runkle - marketing extraordinaire from Drummond St Strategy. Upon casually explaining my 'idea' to him in passing - it dawned on us that we had the opportunity and platform to do something so much bigger than I had envisaged.
We would go BIG!
And that's where we are today....
As we replicate the city in gingerbread we hope that businesses will contribute towards having their facades featured in our build. The money raised will then be pooled and donated to various non-profits including The Hoboken Shelter, Food Pantry and the Hoboken Public Education Foundation.
Families and private individuals will also have the opportuinty to be involved. We would love for kids (and well behaved adults) to partake in creating and decorating parts of the structure.
We will offer classes and learning opportunities so that whilst decorating the bricks that might form part of the Hudson Tea Building, you can learn about the history of the town, and how it came to be