Cookies, cookies

Tables loaded with cookies were a common sight last year at Bethany Lutheran Church when the Olean church conducted its annual cookie drive to benefit the Olean Food Pantry. The church is once again making an appeal for donations of homemade cookies that can be dropped off beginning this week.

OLEAN — For more than a dozen years, bakers from Bethany Lutheran Church and the community have pulled out their mixing bowls and turned on their ovens to create literally dozens upon dozens of cookies for the needy at the Olean Food Pantry.

Organizers at Bethany Lutheran are once again making an appeal for homemade cookies of all varieties for the 13th annual cookie drive to benefit the food pantry’s recipients during the upcoming holiday season. The cookies, which will augment holiday food given to patrons during the month of December, will be accepted beginning this week. The cookies may be dropped off through the last week of December.

“We are asking for donations to be dropped off at Bethany Lutheran Church starting now and continuing until just before Christmas,” Lisa Anderson, spokesperson for the church stated. She said donations received now will be stored in a freezer.

“We will begin bagging cookies on Dec. 1 with distribution of cookies at the food pantry beginning on Dec. 2,” Anderson added.

The cookie drive, which is a mission project, is overseen by the Social Ministry Committee of Bethany Lutheran under the direction of Gail Cross. It was noted that between the church bakers and the community at large “383 dozen homemade, delicious cookies were baked, bagged, tagged and gifted to the Olean Food Pantry in 2018.”

Organizers hope to gather as many cookies or more for the 2019 season.

John Sheehan, president of the Olean Food Pantry’s board of directors, said the cookie drive is very much appreciated by the patrons and staff at the pantry.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with Bethany, and to have them provide the cookies,” Sheehan said. “Our clients always look forward to them … Bethany mixes some special thanksgiving love into the ingredients and the kids just absolutely love them.”

Sheehan said the holiday baking project conducted by Bethany Lutheran is just one more example of the church’s support of the food pantry over the years.

“It’s been amazing support throughout the years, throughout the decades,” Sheehan added. “Even to this day, we’ve had cooperation (with the church) regarding the parking lot.”

Sheehan was referring to the fact that Bethany Lutheran opened a building on its property to the food pantry years ago when the facility had nowhere else to house its operations. The food pantry building, now owned by the non-profit organization, has continued to grow over the years to include a warehouse, a large waiting area for recipients, and a high tunnel to grow vegetables, thereby extending the growing season for its community garden.

“We couldn’t ask for better neighbors,” Sheehan said of the church.

For more information on providing donations of cookies to the church at 6 Leo Moss Drive, across from the Cattaraugus County Building, contact Cross at 372-3115. Leave a message if there is no answer.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)