Home takes on very special meaning during the holidays—a time when stability, comfort and family gatherings are so important. That’s why each year Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix (Trellis) hosts Home Sweet Home—a holiday-themed event that raises money for programs and services that support first-time homebuyers or for those struggling to stay in their homes.

In order for Home Sweet Home to be a success, organizers need people who love to bake and are excited about creating their own original gingerbread house. Those interested in donating a gingerbread house don’t need to be experienced bakers—Trellis just needs creative spirits who are eager to give back to their communities.

Last year the event featured more than three dozen painstakingly crafted homes created by local artists, architects, business owners, chefs, scout troops, celebrities, school groups and community members. Each year the gingerbread houses are showcased for one week in December and then auctioned to the highest bidder. Money raised is used to fund a variety of services and programs.

“We teach, we build and we lend,” said Trellis President and CEO, Patricia Garcia Duarte. “The money we raise goes toward supporting homebuyer counseling, education and financial literacy classes, foreclosure intervention counseling, down payment and closing cost assistance and the renovating of affordable single-family homes.”

In 2012, Trellis counseled 3,477 homeowners, educated 562, created a record 379 new homeowners and helped 1,303 avoid foreclosure. It acquired and rehabilitated 46 homes and helped facilitate 312 mortgages, resulting in a huge impact for valley neighborhoods.

“Our counseling and education programs are so essential for first-time buyers. And for those whom we’ve assisted in avoiding foreclosure, our services have been literal ‘life savers.’ But these services and programs take significant funding, which is why events like Home Sweet Home are so important. We hope to see a large turnout of gingerbread homes and auction attendees this year,” Garcia Duarte said. Now in its fourth year, the auction event will also feature drinks, treats and a raffle, in addition to the houses. The event is by ticket only, and will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at RED CityScape in downtown Phoenix. The public is welcome to preview the gingerbread houses Monday through Friday the week before at CityScape office tower.

This year’s honorary Chairperson, Dr. Lattie F. Coor, Arizona State University president emeritus and current Chair and CEO of the Center for the Future of Arizona, will be on hand to help support Trellis in its quest to help individual families realize their dream of financially stable homeownership.

EVENT DETAILS: What: Fourth annual Home Sweet Home Event—a Gingerbread House Show and Auction When: Free public showing Monday, Dec. 2 through Friday, Dec. 6 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Auction on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 online, $25 at the door and children under 12 are free. Where: RED CityScape located at 1 E. Washington St. (viewing and auction)