New Ipswich church’s “Thanksgiving Pie Ministry” makes 150 pies for local food pantry

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Samantha Brundige, left, Diana Spaulding, and Jaden Horrocks put the finishing touches on finished apple pies.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Diana Spaulding, front, and Elizabeth Spaulding, take finished apple pies from the kitchen to tables for bakers to pick up at the New Ipswich Congregational Church on Thursday.   Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Jaden Horrocks, 17, of New Ipswich, center, gets some assistance rolling up her sleeves from fellow pie-makers while mixing the fillings for blueberry pies.  Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry at the New Ipswich Congregational Church made nearly 150 pies for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Greenville last week. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/25/2019 4:56:55 PM

The Thanksgiving Pie Ministry has the process down to a science.

In three days, with dozens of volunteers helping at each stage of the process, nearly 150 pies are made, baked, and sent to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry at the Sacred Heart Church in Greenville, just in time for them to be added to the Thanksgiving baskets distributed to those in need.

“I think it’s great helping people out who might not be as fortunate as I am,” said volunteer Elizabeth Spaulding of New Ipswich, while readying pie tops in the New Ipswich Congregational Church on Thursday. “It can get expensive to bake, with all the ingredients you need. It’s great to just help out.”

Elizabeth and her mother, Diana, were dedicated to the three-day marathon of pie-making the ministry does each year. The first day is committed to peeling the apples, and the remainder of the two days are for assembling and baking. 

The pies are finished by Friday, and delivered to St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Pantry to be added to their baskets, which are distributed the next day. 

It’s a tradition that grew from the church’s youth group program, coordinator Karyn Veeser of New Ipswich explained.

People have been donating pies to St. Vincent de Paul’s for Thanksgiving pretty much as long as the organization has been putting together Thanksgiving baskets. Eleven years ago, Veeser, who was leading the Congregational Church’s Youth Group at the time, decided to challenge her group to have a cooking lesson, making pies from her mother’s recipes and donating the results to the food pantry.

That first year, the youth group made 32 pies. 

The next year, they doubled it.

As the effort outgrew the church’s kitchen, Veeser began to rope in church neighbors to help with the baking.

Quickly, it became clear that their ambition was outstripping their workforce, and the Thanksgiving Pie Ministry began to open up to the rest of the church and the community as a whole. There is still a core of youth volunteers – the Mascenic National Honors Society can use the time spent making pies towards their required volunteer work – but these days, it’s become an all-ages effort.

President of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry Maureen Stenuis said this year, the 147 pies made by at the Congregational Church are enough to provide a pie for every Thanksgiving basket, and two for families of four or more. 

“It’s just so wonderful to have this cooperation between our church and the New Ipswich Congregational Church. I love that,” Stenuis said. 

The food pantry was able to make its own contribution to the effort this year, by donating some of the crusts and apples, to help reduce the costs for the Pie Ministry.

“They certainly spent a lot of hours on this, so it’s wonderful to be able to give them some of the ingredients,” Stenuis said. 

The Pie Ministry has grown in size so much that they’re able to now regularly make more than 100 pies annually, with about 75 volunteers either donating ingredients, preparing pies, or picking up the assembled pies for baking. 

Mascenic High School senior Jaden Horrocks, 17, of New Ipswich, has been part of the tradition since she was in the seventh grade, when Veeser, her volleyball coach at the time, encouraged her to join. It’s a good reminder to be thankful for her own blessings each year, she said.

“I think it’s easy for people to take things for granted,” Horrocks said. “It’s important to remember to give back. This is something that makes me happy, making other people happy and giving them something they might not have otherwise. I think everyone should do this. It’s definitely worth it.”

The tradition has certainly been growing, with more volunteers than ever, Veeser said. But since it’s inception, there have always been people willing to step up and go the extra mile. One year, the Whitetail Eatery – which has since closed – donated half of the pie crusts needed for the project, and it’s not uncommon for a cash donation to come in that covers a third of their ingredients, and local farms have donated the blueberries and apples for the fillings. There are volunteers who no longer live in town, but still come back to put in their time mixing the pie filling or to bake. 

“I love seeing how many people just show up to help,” Veeser said. 




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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