O'Hara bake sale helps those in need
The social hall at St. Joseph Parish in O'Hara looked a bit like a chocolate factory on Monday, with volunteers staffed before vats of melted chocolate, fresh strawberries and bags of colorful sprinkles.
“We're making anything and everything you can think of,” said Audrey Szmed, who with Beth Mattheis spearheaded the parish Women's Group annual candy-making fundraiser.
The sale will follow Masses on Feb. 9 and 10.
“We go through about 150 pounds of chocolate,” Szmed said with enthusiasm.
The Women's Group, which includes parishioners ages 18 to 98, hosts the bake/chocolate sale each year to benefit the community's needy. In the past, they have donated to women's shelters and underprivileged children.
“Depending on the need, that's where our money goes,” said Szmed, who has been a member of the outreach club for 10 years. “Most recently, we gave baby items to the Rosalia Center for mothers in need.”
In 2012, the bake sale brought in more than $1,000 after having started a decade ago as nothing more than a few trays of brownies at the church fish fry each spring. It has since grown into a full-fledge bakery boutique, said member Joanne Balkey, who lends her expertise as a former sweet shop owner and professional cake baker for 30 years.
“When you walk into our sale now, it looks like something out of a department store,” she said.
Banquet tables covered with ornate linens will showcase items all handmade by parishioners.
“We have cakes and cookies, pies and breads,” Szmed said.
Some of the confections turned out Monday include peppermint bark, orange and macadamia nut logs, chocolate-drizzled biscotti and fresh dipped strawberries.
Young church member Alyssa Mattheis, off school for Monday's Martin Luther King holiday, lent a hand in creating chocolate-covered heart-shaped marshmallow pops.
“I had an idea to cover them with red sprinkles so they look really pretty,” said Alyssa, who speared each pink marshmallow with wooden sticks before dipping and decorating them.
She worked with Women's Group member Helen Grosky to wrap each pop in a cellophane bag to display during the sale.
The pair also helped scoop pieces of peppermint bark into bags and weigh them to exactly 14 ounces each before tying the bags with colorful ribbon.
It's that camaraderie that Balkey said keeps the Women's Group going. With the aim of sharing faith and fellowship, and providing service to the community, members get together for lunches, card parties and mystery theater dinners. They provide baking for the local Meals on Wheels chapter, host drives to collect items for the needy and feature guest speakers on women's topics during their monthly meetings.
“We do so many things,” Balkey said. “It's a nice group.”
Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sharpsburg hoopsters bringing back Wolves name
- From Aspinwall to New Kensington, free shuttle offers rides to some UPMC facilities
- Fee to rent Fireman’s Park in Aspinwall could increase
- Aspinwall seeks funds to begin Brilliant Avenue intersection work
- Single-lane nighttime closures to start on Route 28, near RIDC Park
- Demolition of Aspinwall salt shed starts, new facility will be built
- Portion of Dorseyville Road closed for 3 weeks