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Church volunteers reflect on growth of annual cookie fundraiser

By Kristina Jackson

After 25 years, the St. Thomas More Ladies can churn out cookies like the Keebler elves.

The St. Thomas More Catholic Church Cookie Carousel will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday, and the members of the church’s Ladies organization have their system down to a science.

“It’s a well-oiled machine,” said Rose Harris.

Harris has been involved with the event since it began and said it has become a great fundraiser for the church.

“It really took off,” Harris said. “I remember when someone first brought it up at a Ladies meeting.”

At first, Cookie Carousel was supposed to be a one-time fundraiser, but it grew into something much bigger. The main gathering room at the church is filled with rows and rows of cookies. Last year’s event sold almost 700 pounds of cookies at $6.50 per pound. The proceeds are split between the church and various area agencies that change every year. This year’s recipients are the Youth Empowerment for Success Fund and Shepherd’s Crossing. The event ends up raising about $3,000 for agencies like these annually.

“Initially they weren’t sure how it was going to go, but they saw quickly that it was a success,” said Rebecca Gould.

Gould said planning begins in July and now only takes about two meetings to complete the planning aspects of the Carousel. Members of the planning committee set out platters at the back of the church in November, which has become a sign to the entire congregation that Cookie Carousel is on its way.

“They make it a family affair,” Ellen Brockson said. “Women who were bringing their kids are now bringing their grandkids.”

Between 300 and 400 families bring cookies, and each family is asked to bring four dozen cookies.

“We have more cookies that day than Target, Walmart, Hy-Vee and Dillons combined,” Gould said.

The committee tries to encourage creative or festive cookies. Some families bring back the same cookie every year. Brockson said one of her favorites has been a cookie that looks like a hamburger. The cookie has a plain sugar cookie for the top and bottom for the bun, with a chocolate sugar cookie “patty” and colored frosting for the toppings.

People will line up outside the hall to get their share of these tasty treats.

“It’s just fun,” Gould said. “Who doesn’t like cookies?”

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