Volunteers Sweeten Thanksgiving Meal

Four women sit around a table, coring, peeling and slicing a large bowl of apples
Ressie Bass, Miranda Jackeyfoi, Annah Heckman and Shirley Struchen get pies ready for the oven at St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church

‘Twas the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and all through the basement of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church, volunteers were making pies. At one station they mixed dough; at the next table they rolled it and fit it to pans; there was a separate station for the crumble topping specialists; and across the room at a long table, several women chopped mountains of apples and pears.

“They’re all apple pies, but we add pears to some of them and it makes them a little juicier,” said Shirley Struchen, expertly mining the core out of an apple. Asked how long she’s been coming to the annual pie-making, she said “Oh good heavens!” before guessing that it’s been about ten years.

The pies were destined for Goddard Riverside, where they’re a highlight of our annual Thanksgiving meal for the community. The church has been baking and donating pies every year since the early 2000s.

“The first year we did it in the kitchen of the parsonage,” said Charlene Floyd, an organizer of the event. “We made 20 pies and were very proud of ourselves.”

Over the years the output soared. This year’s goal was 150 pies—50 pumpkin, 50 apple and 50 apple crumble—along with 1200 cookies. Nowadays the baking happens in the church’s large basement kitchen, which is also used by our Home Delivered Meals program.

As the early volunteers finish their shifts, fresh waves of bakers appear. Children who grew up with the tradition now plan their fall breaks from college around it. One year some members of Occupy Wall Street were staying at the church. They came and helped too.

Why do volunteers keep coming back? “Because we know somebody’s going to enjoy these on the other end,” said Struchen.

“That’s a good feeling,” added Ressie Bass.

As for their own Thanksgiving tables—they’re not planning on making any pies.

“Someone’s bringing it,” said Struchen. “I lobbied for a pecan pie.”