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Buy a brownie, ‘Help the Hungry’

FARMINGTON — The fourth annual Help the Hungry Bake Sale is Saturday and organizers for the event are hoping this year will raise even more money.

This year’s sale will be held at the St. Joseph Catholic School Gym with the doors opening at 9 a.m. The bake sale will continue until 1 p.m., with the café opening at 8 a.m. for cinnamon rolls and coffee.

“Every year we make a little bit more money than the year before. Our committee doesn’t have a set goal to raise. The need is greater this year because groceries are higher and the cost is going up. The $18,000 raised last year didn’t last very long with the food pantries,” said Chris Landrum, event organizer.

Returning events this year are the cake walk, café for breakfast and lunch, free cookie decorating contest, silent auction on themed baskets, the holiday decorating chance for holiday wreaths, a live auction with Mark Toti and the regular bake sale booths.

New events this year include the cooking clergy contest, a best recipe contest and a returning favorite … the “sugar-free” booth. This year Farmington Mayor Stuart “Mit” Landrum will be baking hot fresh bread to sell. Items available at the bake sale are fresh bread, cookies, cakes, pies, candy, gift baskets, dry mixes and more.

Organizers will be collecting canned food items at the door that morning. Anyone donating items will receive a 50 cent coupon off their total purchase at the bake sale.

One of the two food pantries receiving help this year is The Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry. They have seen an increase in the number of families in the last few months. In September they saw more than 300 families, or 700 people, walk through their doors for help with food.

Laura Raymer, director of the Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry, said that “families” are either one or sometimes a family of eight or nine people. They have also seen more elderly people coming in for food lately.

Nearly every week the food pantry has an increase in new families coming in for assistance.

“We are always looking for things. If you are at Wal-Mart and want to pick up an extra toothbrush or anything, it is always welcomed. If you just want to drop off 50 cents I can buy a can of soup with that,” said Raymer. “It goes to a good place. The little things make a difference. We want to make sure everyone is taken care of,” she said.

Kathy Neiner, director of St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, said the figures in October were amazing. Last month the pantry served 616 people and had new faces every day they were open. They have been seeing many who had left for a while and are now coming back.

Neiner spends about $6,000 a month at the US Food Bank, USDA commodities and grocery shopping to purchase what is needed. The food pantry relies on donations from the community and St. Joseph Catholic Church to keep operating. 

One volunteer at the food pantry said they have been seeing more families because more people have been losing their jobs. In October 2008 the pantry served 240 families and in October of 2009 they served 251. Neiner added they never have slow days or months anymore.

This month they will get extra help for the holidays with the Help the Hungry Bake Sale and the annual Boy Scouts food drive. The sizable donation raised last year from Help the Hungry lasted only a couple of months.

One new event this year is the Cooking Clergy Contest. Co-organizer Ardie Henson explained the pastors could each make a homemade baked good. It could be a cake, cookies, pie or anything made at home.

The baked items will be auctioned to the highest bidder. The pastor who raises the most money on his or her baked good will have his/her name on a traveling trophy to keep until the next year’s bake sale.

Pastor Kevin Davis with the Farmington First Assembly of God Church said this is the second year the church has really been involved in the bake sale. A couple of women from the church are on the planning committee and invited him to be a part of the “Cooking Clergy” contest.

Davis said he will probably be in contact with a few women from the church to help him pick a recipe to bake for the event.

Farmington Presbyterian Church Pastor Paul Bembower said the church has a long history of working with local food pantries and helping. He added he is planning to make a coffee cake for the bake sale. He started making coffee cakes when he was younger and has continued through the years.

New Heights Church Pastor Rocky Good said he first got involved with the bake sale while he was still attending the First Baptist Church in Farmington. He attended church with Chris Landrum and Ardie Henson, who are co-organizers of the event, and became active with the bake sale.

His church participates and has the “Chocolate Heaven” booth for the bake sale. He said about 20 to 25 church members help out by baking and then by working the booth, along with setting up on the morning of the sale.

Good said he plans to make a three-layer cake and hopes to decorate it like a hamburger.

The holiday raffle will feature some new items donated by local businesses and residents. Some of those items are a fall centerpiece by Expressions by Dennis, Blessings Plaque by Friends of Country, Large Fall Wreath by Butterfields Florist, Christmas Tree Skirt by Oasis Christian Book Store, Christmas Wreath by Ivy and Twigs and many more items.

Maridee Lawson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 756-8927 or

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