The ingredient list included 17 pounds of flour, 17 pounds of salted butter, two more pounds of unsalted butter, 10 pounds of powdered sugar, 20 bags of chocolate chips, and 280 pretzel rods. Mayo Hospice volunteers arrived early, determined to turn those ingredients into 260 dozen cookies and get them delivered to more than 70 hospice patients and their families throughout the region by a 2 p.m. deadline.
At one table, they spread toffee, chocolate and pecans in layers over graham crackers. At another, volunteer Chris Askew showed off her spritzing skills, piping out long strings of buttery spritz ribbon cookies. On another table, preparations were being made for the trays of coconut thumbprint cookies that were about to come out of the oven.
As the Rochester Post-Bulletin, KTTC-TV, and KAAL-TV reported, it's a holiday tradition that used to be measured, mixed, stirred, rolled, spread and baked in the volunteers' own kitchens at home. But when new food regulations grinched that, they had to come up with a different plan. Thankfully, the folks at Canadian Honker Events at Apache stepped in to help keep the tradition alive. "We needed a certified kitchen, and they were kind enough to open up their kitchen to us," Mayo hospice volunteer Kathy Dale tells KTTC. "So the last three years, we've been baking here."
The volunteers baked in three separate shifts while Dale moved from table to table to make sure each group of elves would make its cookie quota.
It's rewarding work that Dale says allows hospice patients relive holiday traditions while making new memories with loved ones during the holiday season. It's also a service to families. "It's kind of the last thing on their radar if they have a loved one dying," she says. "So we're kind of picking up the slack."
When all of the baking, spritzing and piping was complete, volunteers assembled the plates of cookies and sweets. "It's really quite beautiful when it's all spread out," Dale says. "We lay them out and make a long table of cookies, then we walk around with our plates and fill them."
Then comes the most important and rewarding part. Delivering them to hospice patients like 90-year-old Virginia. "I am no longer able to do this, so to have Hospice help is wonderful," she says. And as much as Virginia appreciates the cookies, she says it's what's behind them that matters most. "I appreciate the visit even more," she says. "Hospice is so helpful, and they always come with a smile. And isn't that what the holidays are all about?"
Yes, Virginia, it is.
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