Volunteers prepare for the St. Andrew's Lutheran Church fundraiser, which returns Dec. 14.
Lori Speed and Terri Brown have Christmas cookies on the brain almost all year long.
The organizers of the The Great Christmas Cookie Walk at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church have made 150 different kinds of cookies in the past, and their minds continue to churn with new ideas as they sift through Tupperware bins and manila folders full of recipe inspiration.
After a three-year hiatus, the beloved cookie fundraiser will return Saturday, Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. at St. Andrew’s, 425 North Dupont Highway in Dover.
The church’s great hall will be filled with 40 to 45 round tables decked in artful cookie displays. Participants buy an empty bakery box in sizes small, medium or large, receive a glove and meander through the tables to fill their boxes with cookies of their choice.
Shopping carts and volunteers, called Cookie Elves, will be available for assistance. There will also be premade trays that people can buy. One table will have all gluten-free cookies.
All money raised goes toward the church and their efforts to help the community, such as support for Code Purple, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing and the Kent County Ecumenical Food Pantry.
“The event was designed to be a community builder,” Brown said.
All leftover cookies that don’t get sold are donated to United Service Organizations, shut-ins and others in the community.
This year, one table will be in memory of former church member and baking enthusiast Jack Horstick. Brown said the table will feature Horstick’s recipes but in smaller sizes, since he was known for making large cookies.
“We’re excited to be able to honor him. He was an avid baker at the church and at home,” she said.
Start your mixers ...
Brown said she has been baking for two weeks and Speed has been promoting the sale on Facebook since May, but the official preparations start this month.
A small group of volunteers met at the church Nov. 21 to mix ingredients, roll dough, fill trays and unwrap candies in what they call the Big Mix.
“[It’s] being part of something bigger than yourself,” volunteer Maryann Klemmer said. “And we have a lot of fun!” volunteer Jerry Hoecker chimed in as he unwrapped Hershey kisses.
The first year they did the Big Mix, Speed and Brown said they prepared the cookies on their own, working from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next morning.
The volunteers create a few different base recipes, such as a sugar cookie, and then add upon that dough to make hundreds of different cookies. This year, they bought 200 eggs, 25 pounds of butter, 150 pounds of sugar and 400 pounds of flour, Speed said.
“One year, we made so many cookies we had to go buy a freezer,” she said, but they never count the cookies, so they cannot make an estimate of how many they make each time.
Next, they call in the Cookie Elves Saturday, Dec. 7 for the Big Bake. They’ve had volunteers as young as 4 years old and as old as 99 help with oven-timing and tasks that can be done sitting down, Brown said.
“My favorite day is the bake day because everyone is here, everyone is positive, and they want to help,” she said.
Speed and Brown have been friends since they were 10-years-old, and they created the fundraiser as a way to help the church with its large mortgage in 2010.
Although they both said The Great Christmas Cookie Walk is “labor-intensive and all-consuming,” the friends are excited to bring it back and work together again.
“I missed her,” Brown said of Speed. “We’re a great team.”
To volunteer, visit The Great Christmas Cookie Walk on Facebook and request to join the group Cookie Elves.