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Church adds flavor to workers' holidays

December 18, 2005|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Editor's note: This is the fourth of a 10-part series about people who make this holiday season brighter for others. The series concludes Christmas Eve.

HAGERSTOWN -

Working Christmas Eve? Here, have a cookie.

In fact, take six. St. John's Lutheran Church has plenty.

On the night before Christmas, volunteers from the church deliver bags of homemade cookies, about a half-dozen in each, to people who have to work.

They call it the "One-Two-Three" tradition, said Lisa Startzman, one of the event's three coordinators.

"First we bake 'em, then we bag 'em, then we give them out," said Startzman, 41, of Hagerstown.

Last year, the church "bagged and tagged" hundreds of cookies, said Sandy Weaver, who co-chairs the event. Some people start baking as early as the day after Thanksgiving, Weaver said.

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On Christmas Eve, right after the church's 7 p.m. service, volunteers pile into the church van. Denny Stoub, the other co-chair, is the driver.

And after that?

"I'm usually like, 'So guys, where do you want to go?'" Startzman said.

In the past, the group has gone to fire departments, police stations and hotels. Last year, Startzman said the crew passed out cookies at Washington County Hospital and to people pumping gas. One year, the crew went through a fast-food drive-through.

"We get there and they say, 'Hey can we help you?' and then we said, 'No. We have something for you,'" Startzman said. "Oh my Lord, now they're probably thinking they're being robbed."

But it worked out, Startzman said. The workers were happy to get the cookies.

It's not uncommon for happy cookie recipients to give volunteers something in return. Startzman said one hotel gave them more cookies after they received their goods. One hotel worker gave them a box of chocolates, Startzman said.

"Usually, they'll give us a big ol' hug," Startzman said.

Weaver said the deliveries usually take about an hour and end just in time for the 11 p.m. service.

The church came up with the idea five years ago after hearing about a Chicago church that handed out Krispy Kreme doughnuts on Christmas Eve, Weaver said.

Since they started the cookie deliveries, Weaver said the young volunteers had gained the most from giving.

"It gives them something to do other than waiting to get something for themselves," Weaver said.

Monday:

Rita Holohan of Hancock
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