Church fires up fryers for doughnut sale

February 23, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

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HAGERSTOWN -- At Washington Square United Methodist Church on Monday, the fryers were sizzling, the powdered sugar was flying and, bag by bag, the warm, homemade doughnuts just kept on coming.

Volunteers at the church at 538 Washington Ave. were working in shifts to fill orders for more than 12,000 doughnuts over a period of 22 hours, coordinator Patsy Weigand said. The doughnut sale for Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, has been an annual tradition at the church for more than 40 years. Proceeds help pay to send children to camp and make improvements to the church, Weigand said.

As of Monday afternoon, the church had received more than 1,000 orders for one-dozen bags at $2.25 a bag, Weigand said.


"We didn't have any problem selling them," she said.

To fill all the orders, volunteers started at about 10 a.m. Monday and the church planned to keep the assembly line running until about 8 a.m. Tuesday, Weigand said. The first crew was to work until about 6 p.m., the second from 6 to 11 p.m., and the third from 11 p.m. Monday until 8 a.m. Tuesday, she said.

The process, honed over many years, begins in the church kitchen, where volunteers mix flour, sugar and other ingredients into a thick batter. Pitchers of the batter are distributed to volunteers at several frying stations, who use handheld gadgets to drop small rings of it into pans of hot grease. The doughnuts are set near the windows to cool on large pans. Some are dunked in a bin of powdered sugar, while others are sold plain. The church does not offer glazed doughnuts.

Eating doughnuts on the day before Lent begins is a variation on a tradition practiced in many cultures. A variation with German roots is to eat fasnachts, which are square pastries slightly heavier and larger than doughnuts.

Many doughnut shops and grocery stores offer fasnachts or doughnuts before Lent, but Weigand said the Washington Square United Methodist Church is the only church she knows of that makes its own doughnuts.

The church had some new customers this year, but for many, buying the doughnuts is a treasured pre-Lent tradition, volunteers said. Weigand said she knows what many customers will order as soon as she picks up the phone.

Some of the largest orders come from companies where employees pool their money to purchase for the office, Weigand said.

Volunteers said they didn't mind putting in the long hours over the pans of hot grease.

"It's just something that I wanted to do to help out the church, and I thought it was a good cause," said volunteer Jeanie Kauffman, 47, of Hagerstown, who said this is the first year her work schedule has allowed her to help make the doughnuts.

Kauffman and her daughter, Kimberly Mitchell, 22, of Hagerstown, said they enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with people from their church.

Traditionally, the church has used the proceeds from the doughnut sale to send children and teens to camp at Manidokan Outdoor Ministry Center near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Weigand said. Last year, there was no interest in the camp, but the church will offer it again if anyone signs up, she said.

Money from previous years' sales has also gone to projects such as a new elevator, restroom changing tables and supplies for children's' programs, Weigand said.

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