St. Scholastica students bake pies for charityThe project was one of more than 60 different places College of St. Scholastica students and staff volunteered across Duluth today.
The efficiency of eight years of assembly-line style pie-making experience was on full display today at Duluth’s First United Methodist Church.
At one end of a long, stainless steel kitchen counter, heaps of pumpkin pie filling, spices, milk and eggs poured into giant mixing bowls. At the other end, volunteers from the College of St. Scholastica molded the finished dough into dozens of pans. Then the overwhelming scent of more than 130 pies baking in a giant oven filled the air.
“We’ve been doing this seven, maybe eight, years now so we have it down pretty good,” said LeAnn House, chairwoman of St. Scholastica’s Music Department and the person with the bright pie idea.
The pie-making project was one of more than 60 different places Scholastica students and staff volunteered across Duluth. The college essentially closes down one day each autumn to send some 800 of its own into the wider community to do hands-on volunteer work.
“It’s a fun way to help the community," said Erica Ruff, a sophomore nursing student form Blaine, Minn.
Megan Hepokoski, a senior nursing student at the college from New Brighton, Minn., said the volunteer day is part of the college’s effort to give back to the community. And she said she picked pie-making for CHUM because the downtown Duluth nonprofit outreach program targets a vulnerable population of the city’s hungry and homeless.
“As nursing students, we are expected to volunteer in the community," she said. "And this is a great idea to get out here and do something. I picked this one because I wanted to help CHUM."
House said the St. Scholastica Community Service Day is a longstanding tradition that helps build ties between the college and city as well as among students and faculty who participate.
“There’s a lot of need in this community, and we think it’s important to make an effort to meet those needs when we can," she said. “We (the college) also believe in community responsibility. Getting students involved in the community. ... Plus this helps us get to know one another. We might have some of these students in class, but you really get to know someone when you make pies together.”
In the church kitchen today, six Scholastica students and three staff made and baked pies that another group of students would sell to the public in the afternoon. They were hoping to top last year’s volunteers from the college who baked and sold 130 pies at $10 apiece, raising $1,300 for the CHUM food shelf.
Ironically, that’s from where the pie filling comes.
“Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s they get a lot of pumpkin donated to the food shelf. But a lot of the people using the food shelf don’t have ovens, or don’t know how to bake, so the pie filling sort of builds up and builds up in the back," said Mary Schmitz, CHUM’s development director.
When House heard about that stockpile of pie filing, she had the idea to bake pies and then sell the pies to the public and use the money raise to buy other food that CHUM customers could better handle in their often meager kitchens and with often meager means. It’s become an annual event.
“They (CHUM) can take that $10 and buy a whole lot more groceries than we could, so the money goes a long way," House said.