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Church prepares chocolate Easter eggs

March 10, 1999

Easter EggsBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




MONT ALTO, Pa. - Every year, a dozen or so members of a little church in Mont Alto spend the month before Easter mixing peanut, coconut, and butter cream recipes, forming them into egg shapes and dipping the concoctions in melted chocolate.

Before the month is over, volunteers at Wesley United Methodist Church will have made upwards of 14,000 chocolate Easter eggs.

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The eggs sell for 50 cents each and will net from $4,000 to $5,000, all of which goes to the church.

Most are sold by church members the way many parents of Girl Scouts sell cookies - to coworkers.

What has now become a church tradition started 10 years ago in Elaine Reed's kitchen.

Reed, 66, with time on her hands, signed up for a course to learn how to make candy for her family.

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"I was at loose ends at home," she said. "I wanted something to do, a hobby."

Soon, Reed, her daughter and a niece began to make chocolate Easter eggs in her kitchen as a fund-raiser for the church.

"We made a couple of thousand (eggs) the first year," she said.

More volunteers came with each passing year. The operation outgrew Reed's kitchen. In 1992, it moved to the church basement, where a production line of sorts was set up.

The inside creams are mixed the night before in five flavors - plain and crunchy peanut butter, coconut and coconut cream and butter cream.

Men scoop out the mixtures with ice cream scoops and the women form them into egg shapes. Other men, "dippers," like Charles Reed, Elaine Reed's husband, melt chocolate in a microwave oven and dip the eggs into it.

Larry Cluck is the "M&M guy." It's his job to attach appropriately colored M&Ms to each egg. They are color-coded according to flavor - yellow for peanut butter, blue for crunchy peanut butter, red for butter cream, and so on.

"Every year we buy something different with the money we make," Reed said. "One year it was new chandeliers and track lighting, another it was tiles for the basement floor. One year we bought new hymnals."

While the work is steady and repetitious, it is also, judging by the banter over the work tables, a social event for the volunteers, most of whom are retired. "It's a lot of work, but we have fun," said Verna Beard, 69.

Beard is in charge of her own fund-raiser for the church. She oversees the pie-making. A half-dozen times a year - during church-sponsored yard sales, Presidents' Day and on special occasions - Beard and her crew bake 50 to 100 pies, including apple, cherry, pumpkin, coconut cream and more, which they sell for $5 each.

Beard rolls the dough, a job she won't entrust to anyone else. "Her crust is outstanding," Reed said.

Then there's Nancy Misner, 64, the "soup lady." Like the pies, her soup is made only for special occasions. There is vegetable, ham-and-bean and the favorite, chicken corn. It sells for $2.50 a quart to go, or it can be bought by the bowl on the premises during yard sales and other events.

On a good day, Misner said she can sell 75 quarts.

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