Massachusetts congregation bakes for Ukraine
“We bake so they can!”
That’s the mantra that motivated the bakers and organizers of the Federated Church of Martha’s Vineyard’s Cookies for Ukraine fundraiser.
Members of the church, in Edgartown, Mass., spent a cold, rainy Saturday, March 12, selling homemade cookies to raise money for the United Church of Christ Ukraine Emergency Appeal.
“I like to bake and got to thinking about all those mothers and grandmothers in Ukraine, who, like me, enjoy baking for their families,” said church member Mary Gentle. “While I can do that, so many of them cannot because of the horrific war being waged on them and their families.”
That prompted Gentle to propose the fundraising idea during worship on Sunday, March 6.
“The actual idea came to me just after I had clicked a ‘Donate’ button for Ukraine relief,” Gentle said. “I was glad to be able to donate, but this didn’t really make me feel connected to the people I wanted to help.”
Good at baking
Baking cookies was something the church community could do together. The congregation, Pastor Charlotte Wright said, quickly embraced the idea.
“One thing churches are really good at – cooking and baking. This is our way of contributing and a good way we could get the word out,” Wright said.
“We’ll have some information about the UCC relief effort on site, collect donations and point people to the donate button if they want to help.”
Volunteers by the dozen
Federated volunteers spent last week baking and collecting cookies. On Saturday morning organizers met at the church to ready the homemade cookies for sale. One group packed plastic bags with a dozen assorted cookies as another tied them with blue and yellow ribbons — and red for gluten-free. They loaded up cars to move the cookies to a spot outside a local grocery store, where they sold out in three hours. The all-church effort raised more than $2,540 from on-site sales on Saturday. More was tallied on Monday, with online donations still coming in.
“There were 28 bakers who baked 127 dozen cookies, six packers, three tie makers, six sellers, one sign maker, two publicists, and a lot of buyers,” Gentle said. “It truly took a village to pull off this event!”
“We feel so inept in all of this,” Wright said, referring to tracking the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We wanted to do something besides writing a check.
“We had already added a donate button on our website and in our newsletter to connect with the UCC Ukraine emergency relief effort,” the pastor continued, noting that the church immediately donated $300 from early collections as soon as the national appeal launched.
Early on in the conflict, Federated Church was one of several faith communities calling for prayers for Ukraine — ringing their church bells 107 times on March 5. The pastor said the congregation will continue to look for initiatives to provide relief to Ukraine as long as people stay engaged and want to contribute.
Sale creates ‘ripples’
Gentle was moved by the community involvement in the bake sale, and shared what she called the “ripples” – like throwing a pebble in the water – that continue.
“We had terrible, terrible weather on Saturday, and I wasn’t sure people would come out. But the very first transaction we had, a man handed us $100. He said ‘I like what you are doing, but I don’t eat cookies.’ We encouraged him to take cookies and give them to his neighbor,” she said.
“A little while later, someone came up and said ‘My neighbor gave me a bag of cookies – I want to buy some cookies and pass them on.’
“A young couple with an 18-month-old baby came through and asked about what we were doing,” Gentle continued. “They bought some cookies, looked over our information as we were cooing over the baby. The next day the couple and the baby came to our church – they had not come before. But they said they liked what we were doing. … We are just getting back to being in church in person. You know they are going to come back.”
She shared one last “ripple”: “We got a call from someone out of town who said that they have no church affiliation and don’t want one, but like the fact that our church is doing something. They are coming to the Vineyard this summer … and asked if they could help in some way.
“Our purpose, to raise money for Ukraine, has had some other really positive benefits.”
Because of efforts like this, the UCC Emergency Appeal for Ukraine has already surpassed $200,000. One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used for refugee relief. As John Baird, team leader of UCC Global H.O.P. E. said, these gifts enable the UCC to partner and be present with people in Ukraine as well as in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and possibly other places as people continue to seek safety beyond Ukraine’s borders.
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