Last Saturday was National Pie Day, and even though it seems as though there is a special day or month devoted to all sorts of random things, I’ve taken a special liking to this particular one. Perhaps it’s because I love pie, or perhaps it’s because I’m always looking for a good excuse to make and eat pie. It’s a good thing my wife and I own a bakery, because it certainly makes it easy to make a lot of different pies without actually having to eat them all!
We figured we’d make several different pies that we don’t normally prepare. Since it’s winter, we were going to focus on making mostly cream and custard pies. After a little scrounging around in the freezer though, we did find several bags of frozen local fruits and what better of an occasion than to use them now, when the wind blows cold and the landscape is grey and bleak. We found cherries, blueberries and some organic raspberries from Happy Valley Berry Farm. Yum, summer berry pie would definitely be made.
After some discussion we settled on a menu. In addition to two of our standards, apple and key lime, we thought we’d try out a chocolate peanut butter pie and a chocolate malted pie, a banana cream pie and a coconut custard pie. Those and the summer berry pies would keep us busy enough.
Then the earthquake in Haiti happened and all the feelings of despair and hopelessness and, especially helplessness, clouded our joy for pie day. Since we felt we should do something to help, even something little, National Pie Day became an opportunity to help.
There are so many charities to use, so many options for donating, where do you start to look? Since we’re passionate about all things food, and since we have a visceral connection to the act of eating, we typically choose to focus our volunteering efforts towards food related charities. I did a little research online and found that the World Food Program has one of the lowest administrative costs among aid agencies (around 7%) and is ‘highly rated’ by charitynavigator.org with four starts out of four. Perfect.
We did a little advertising, only to guests of the bakery through our newsletter and facebook fanpage… just a few words to let them know that 100% of the proceeds of the pie sales would go toward Haiti relief. The response was immediate and powerful. Orders starting rolling in via e-mail and facebook. Folks started calling us, and before we knew it, within twelve hours our fundraising goal had been met and within 24, it had almost doubled. One of our employees, Kate, decided to donate her wages for the day and everyone at the bakery decided that the tip jar collections would go towards the fund. Everyone was opening their hearts and wallets and it was wonderful.
So we got to work making pies. There was a whirlwind of activity in the kitchen, chocolate and vanilla crust had to be made, bananas needed to be sautéed in butter and brown sugar.
Pastry cream had to be cooked, and peanut butter mousse was to be prepared. Key lime filling and chocolate malted filling was baked, apples were sliced, and cream was whipped. It was a mad dash of pie making and it was great to feel like we were actually doing something meaningful. As Booker T. Washington once said, ‘If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else’
All told, we sold almost 100 pies and gathered many donations as well. It’s a testament to the people of Vineland, how generous and heartfelt they were to support our efforts. It may not have been very much money that we raised in the grand scheme of things, and it seems like nothing in the scope of the disaster that has befallen our fellow brothers and sisters down in the Caribbean. But every little bit helps, and so I wanted to take this opportunity to send a shout out to our Sweet Lifers… thank you!