A cookie or two can make a difference

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 11, 2001


Their’s is a simple goal:

Sell 2,000 pounds of homemade cookies in six hours.

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At $5 a pound, reaching that goal could yield $10,000 for the Troy-Pike chapter of Habitat for Humanity, not to mention hundreds of delighted smiles during the holiday season.

"This is new for Pike County," admits Barbara Patterson, the director of student involvement and leadership at Troy State University who serves as secretary of the local Habitat chapter. But the fund-raiser has been successful in other places. "Like Auburn. That’s where we got the idea and the goal of $10,000."

The concept is a simple one, as well:

Members at nearly two dozen participating churches have volunteered to make the cookies – in all shapes, sizes and flavors – to donate for the sale. The cookies – literally thousands of them – will be brought to St. Martin’s Catholic Church on the Elba Highway. And, at 8 a.m. on Dec. 1, the doors will open for what may just be the biggest cookie sale.

"The cookies will be laid out (around the parish hall) and people can walk in, get a box and a glove, and go pick their favorite cookies," Patterson said. "They can get whatever they want … and even get something for the holidays, for their offices, even gifts for friends or neighbors."

Decorated acrylic boxes, donated by Sodexho/Marriott will be available for participants. And, after you’ve filled your box with all your favorite treats, volunteers will weigh the box. You’ll pay only $5 per pound for the homemade treats.

"We’re really trying to promote the fact that instead of just buying your own cookies, you can buy cookies for others," said Susan Pierce, public relations chairman for the local Habitat chapter. "You can buy them as gifts … even take them to someone you know in a nursing home."

It is, truly, a wonderfully beneficial way to create a homemade, tasty treat for giving during the holiday season.

More important, as Pierce, Patterson and others will say, it’s an easy way to help your fellow man.

The money raised from this project will go to the Habitat chapter’s fifth house. "It costs about $35,000 per house," said Gene Omasta, chairman of church relations for the chapter.

Habitat for Humanity, as the volunteers will quickly say, is not a hand out – it’s a hand up. The international volunteer organization has built more than 100,000 houses for needy and deserving families throughout the world. Here in Pike County, the 7-year-old chapter is in the midst of building its fifth house.

"And we have two more qualified families waiting for houses," Patterson said.

The houses are built with a combination of time and services donated by Habitat volunteers and a hefty dose of "sweat equity" by the families who will own the house.

According to Omasta, each Habitat recipient must provide at least 500 sweat equity hours of labor.

"And we tailor our houses to the recipients’ needs," Patterson said. "Depending on the size of the family, we’ll build a three-bedroom or four-bedroom house."

Once the house is completed, the recipient purchases it through the Habitat chapter, which offers a no-interest, 15-year loan.

"We’ve been building basically one house a year in the last five years," Omasta said. "We’re hoping to build two houses each year."

The need exists, Patterson said. Through her volunteer work, Patterson said she has found many families living in unacceptable conditions in Pike County. "This family we’re building for now lived in an older house … and I talked with them last winter. They were always cold and every time it rained they were soaking wet. They had done a lot of work on that house …" But it wasn’t enough.

That’s where Habitat can help.

With the ambitious goal of building two houses each year, the church-based ministry is hoping to make a difference, both locally and around the world.

Here in Pike County, that difference can start with a simple cookie … or two.

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6308 or via e-mail, stacy.graning@troymessenger.com


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