Miranda Harvey and Danny Schleitwiler drove in early from Joliet to be the first in line at the Channahon United Methodist Church cookie walk on Saturday.
They arrived at 8 a.m. for the 9 a.m. opening so they could be the first ones to pick their favorite cookies from the tables and tables of treats.
Although it was Harvey’s first time at CUMC, she used to go on cookie walks with her father all the time.
“My dad and I have been doing this since I was 6,” Harvey said. “He’s in the hospital right now, so we are getting the cookies for him.”
Harvey and Schleitwiler managed to fill four cookie buckets to the brim, each weighing around two pounds. They made sure to get plenty of gingerbread men.
“My dad has an addiction to gingerbread,” Harvey said.
When they were finished at CUMC, the pair was heading off to a cookie walk in Lockport. All the sweets they bought on Saturday would be bagged up and frozen.
“Every month on the first (my dad) defrosts a pack so we always have cookies,” Harvey said.
There may be as many reasons that people pack local cookie walks as there are kinds of cookies spread from end to end on silver platters.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t have time to bake or don’t bake certain types,” said Minooka United Methodist Women President Kim Nave.
Minooka United Methodist Church held its cookie walk the Saturday before Channahon's.
For more than 13 years, the Minooka group has been baking up cookies and other treats that go like hot cakes. They make certain types every year for their repeat customers, such as cute little teddy bears, peppermint cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and sugar cookies that are custom decorated.
Minooka UMC baked up thousands of cookies in the church’s annex over a two-day period.
“All the women of the church donate, and it’s all homemade baking,” Nave said.
Back at Channahon UMC, helpers donning festive red aprons were busy filling the platters with new selections as the inventory was depleted.
Some people quickly filled their buckets, while others wanted to be a bit more choosey.
One woman stood and marveled at the variety of cookies at the beginning of the line. Her husband urged her to hurry up a bit.
“We have a long way to go,” he told her.
Pat Criss of Plainfield likes to choose the decorated cookies and adds them to her own baked goods to give away as holiday gifts.
“I don’t buy chocolate chip, I can make those easy,” Criss said. “This way, I have multiple kinds, including the decorated ones that I like.”
The CUMC bakers try to come up with different varieties every year to mix things up, said Laurie Raeburn of the Channahon United Methodist Women. Raeburn baked gluten-free cookies this year that came out awesome, she said.
“We try to break it up so there not the same each year and there’s a good variety,” she said. “Everyone tries to outdo each other.”
Besides making a wonderful holiday tradition for many people, cookie walks are used as fundraisers for the church women’s groups.
Such as sewing projects by the Minooka United Methodist Women, who recently made and shipped 53 dresses and 52 pairs of shorts to a poor area of Africa, and special pillow cases for the Methodist Children’s home downstate. They also provide scholarships and sponsor young adults in third world countries.
The Channahon United Methodist Women support the Marcy Newberry Association for seniors and after-school programs for children, as well as sponsoring programs that help women in Africa start small businesses.
“We are reaching out to the community because people like cookies, and our primary mission is women and children around the world,” Raeburn said.
Those that buy up the home-baked goodies at cookie walks appreciate the work that the baking elves do for them.
Rosemary Elkins has been buying them at CUMC for six years because it makes things easier, she said.
“And because they are good.”