Learning to serve, 1 pie at a time

Havre de Grace students learn about baking and community service

November 18, 2007|By Cassandra A. Fortin | Cassandra A. Fortin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Havre de Grace High School senior Kara Horning measured two cups of flour, poured it into a glass bowl and added salt and shortening.

When the mixture started to resemble her idea of a piecrust, she slowly poured water into the bowl, while Tyrell Graves, 14, stirred.

Kirsten Somers, their teacher in the class "Foods for Healthy Living," walked by and noted that the crust mix looked too watery.

"Uh-oh. Did you just add a half a cup of water?" she asked.

Kara looked from the mixture to the measuring cup.

"Oh no, I put in a cup and a half of water," said the 17-year-old pie-making novice.

There was no saving the mix. "Well, dump it out and start all over again," said Somers.

Kara, undeterred by the mistake, continued with her task, along with about 25 classmates in Somers' class.

"I think it's exciting to get to help make dinner for people for Thanksgiving that may not have anything to eat, if we didn't do this," Kara said. "I think it's neat that I get to do this with my friends."

The students made about 120 apple, blueberry and cherry pies, traditional desserts for a dinner to feed about 600 people on Thanksgiving Day. Through a program called Service Makes an Individual's Life Extra Special, the school's service learning club, about 60 students and 100 adults will prepare and serve the dinner Thursday at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Havre de Grace, said Don Osman, who heads SMILES.

"This dinner started out just being for the poor," said Osman, a retired schoolteacher who is now a teacher mentor. "It's for anyone who doesn't want to eat alone on Thanksgiving. ... It's for anyone who wants to come, from anywhere in the county."

The menu will include turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, candied yams, green beans, corn, beverages, and - thanks to Kara and her classmates - pie.

Guests may dine in the church hall or have a meal delivered to their homes. Volunteers expect to serve about 300 and deliver to another 300.

The $1,700 to buy the food came from private and business donors, and from money raised at the concession stand during soccer and football games, Osman said.

Volunteers for the dinner are mostly students who are earning service learning credit, Osman said. But he's hoping that the effort also instills a feeling of pride and community spirit, he said.

"I want to plant seeds in the minds of youngsters that will teach them that they are the volunteers of the future," he said.

Samantha Bonney, 16, said volunteering helps her to show her community that she cares.

"It makes me feel good that, even though we're young, we can still help out," Samantha said.

Across the room, Chelsea Piper, 15, and Troy Larrabee, 16, were rolling out pie crusts and putting them in pans. Then, carefully, they crimped the edges of the crust.

"I've never made a pie," said Chelsea, shaping the crust with her flour-covered fingers. "But this is important, and I want to do a good job. Everyone should have a Thanksgiving dinner, and you can't have a good one without a pie."

Troy said he is no stranger to giving back to his community. His mother, who once owned Winchester Restaurant in Port Deposit, would usually do Thanksgiving dinners for fun, he said.

"This just makes you feel good about yourself," he said.

Once they were satisfied that their crusts were the right texture, the bakers filled the pie plates with apples or blueberries and then sprinkled a crumbly mixture on top of the fruit.

"It looks nice," Troy told Chelsea. "Yours does, too," she replied as they covered the uncooked pies with foil.

Somers walked around the room, checking on the progress of her students. She has had her class make pies for Thanksgiving since she started teaching 11 years ago.

SMILES pays for the ingredients, so she sees the activity as a way to keep the kids cooking without straining her budget. But mostly, it's a way for the students to give back to the community.

"We're all part of a community here," Somers said. "It doesn't matter what your age is. ... Everyone can pitch in."

Dinner will be served from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Patrick's Church, 615 Congress Ave., Havre de Grace. Information: 410-939-2525.

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