Diocesan News

Saint Joseph School in Beatrice Readies for Sweets Sale

BEATRICE (SNR) - For days, even weeks, families from Saint Joseph School in Beatrice have been busily making Christmas treats: cookies, fudge and other candies. On December 18-19, people will have the opportunity to select from a dizzying array of these homemade treats as a way to support the school.

"I’d say we’ve done this for at least eight years," said Susie Witulski, one of the many parents who are contributing goods to the annual sale. It is sponsored by the school’s education committee, which uses the proceeds to pay for things such as All Saints Day celebrations and Catholic Schools Week.

What makes this cookie and candy sale different from a typical bake sale is that it’s all sold mix-or-match by the pound.

The goodies are laid out on long tables in the parish center before the Saturday evening Mass, and that’s when the fun begins. Patrons are equipped with Styrofoam containers and disposable gloves. They stroll up and down the tables, taking one or two – or a handful – of the treats they like best.

"There are different fudges, hard candy, sugar cookies, peanut butter balls," Mrs. Witulski started naming off a few of the options. "There’s a couple novelty-type things, like marshmallow men or mice made from maraschino cherries with the stem as the tail."

At checkout, the heavily laden containers are weighed and priced.

Each school family is asked to provide four dozen treats, with only two stipulations: they must be homemade and they must be something special for the holidays. No humdrum chocolate chip cookies here.

Mrs. Witulski said some people go above and beyond.

"One mom I work with is going to make 13 dozen cut-out sugar cookies," she said.

Ladies of the parish altar society are also generous with their contributions, even though they aren’t required to provide a thing.

"They sneak them in there," Mrs. Witulski laughed. "We never know exactly who has brought what."

The schoolchildren themselves get in on the act. Some work with the parents at home. Others, such as the fifth graders, use the cookie and candy sale as a classroom project.

This year, there will be something new added to the mix: drink mixes. Homemade hot chocolate mix and spiced teas have been stirred up and packaged into jars or other containers. These will be priced individually instead of sold by the pound.

It’s a popular event for multiple reasons.

"Most people include their kids in making things, so the kids want to come back and buy something," Mrs. Witulski said.

Other folks enjoy having homemade treats at home or at the office, but they either don’t want a whole batch for themselves, or don’t like to bake.

Mrs. Witulski said that they come close to running out of goodies every year. Anything left is packaged on disposable plates and sold during the schoolchildren’s Christmas program the following Tuesday.

The education committee of Saint Joseph School are big fans of the annual sweets sale because this fundraiser is pure profit. All the ingredients and labor is donated by the parents.

"It’s hard to find things that are 100% profit," noted Mrs. Witulski, who has served on the committee in previous years.

She has four children in the school, ranging from preschool to fifth grade. She appreciates how close-knit the school community is.

"Everybody knows each other," she said.

The school also operates a daycare for younger children, which is especially nice for working parents. They can keep all their kids together in the same wholesome, Christ-centered place.

Currently, the school only goes up to 5th grade. Mrs. Witulski hopes that will change.

"We’re working on trying to grow the school and go up to 8th grade," she said.

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