Easter egg fundraiser a labor of love for Woodside church

WOODSIDE — It takes an organized team effort when it comes to crafting the taste-bud tempting Easter eggs that members of Woodside United Methodist Church have been creating each spring since 1994.

While it is hard work that the volunteers do for their annual Easter egg fundraiser, one can easily tell just by the buzz of conversation that fills the room inside the church’s Fellowship Hall at 1407 Main Street in Woodside, that this is one big labor of love.

These Easter eggs don’t feature colorful dye jobs on hard-boiled egg shells.

Rather, they are more than a quarter-pound of sweet, mouth-watering goodness that comes in six different flavors: the ever-popular peanut butter, chocolate, butter cream, maple walnut, fruit and nut and coconut.

The Easter eggs serve as the churches’ biggest fundraiser each year. Over the past 26 years, the annual sale of the treats has helped church operations, built Fellowship Hall, created rooms for Sunday School classes and helped purchase a new roof.

“This is our big fundraiser and it helped build this building (Fellowship Hall) and then we added new Sunday School rooms on, and it helped build that, too,” said Marlene Gerhard, who is in charge of Operation Easter Egg. “I’ve been doing this since I retired (from working) in 2003. I helped out before that.

“There was a lady before me that gave the job to me, and now I’m teaching it to somebody else because I’m getting too old.”

The Woodside United Methodist Church’s Easter egg fundraiser does take a lot of hands to be successful.

It all starts out with two buyers who purchase all the supplies needed to make the eggs, as well as a measurer who follows one of the six recipes to assemble the required ingredients in the correct amounts.

Then, for about a week-and-a-half before the arrival of Easter, a virtual production line of volunteer workers turns it all into a stockroom filled with trays and more trays that hold a combined total of 4,429 Easter eggs.

The team of egg makers includes: two mixers, a pair of weighers, four to six shapers, two dippers, four to six trimmers, two decorators and many baggers that work side-by-side to make the eggs all come together.

Then, of course, are perhaps the most important people — the sellers. Two members will be on duty from 6 until 8 p.m. each night (except Sunday) from April 5 through April 20 to sell the confections at $3 apiece inside the churches’ Fellowship Hall, the door just to the right of the main entrance to the church.

“One egg weighs at least a quarter pound,” Steve Childers said. “Most of them are even a little bit more than that. We definitely make sure that no one’s getting cheated. This is an event that brings everybody together every year. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun, too.

“By the time we’re finished we should clear $10,000 for the church. People are welcome to just stop by the church from 6 until 8 every evening, except Sunday, for the next two weeks. We’ll have the Easter eggs ready for them.”

The Easter egg tradition at Woodside United Methodist Church has grown immensely since Irene Kersey and her friend, Gloria Remus, and their husbands, Merwin and Oakie, began the tradition back in 1994 while just looking for something to do.

“To tell the truth, I don’t know why they decided to make the eggs,” Ms. Gerhard said. “It was two women and their husbands, and they used to come and spend the whole day in here because it was only them four who came and started it out. They’d even eat their lunch up here. After that, it just developed a little bit more.”

The Kerseys and Remuses at first made all the eggs, starting with 10 pounds of chocolate, in the inaugural year. The egg tradition has changed — and grown — as the years have passed.

This year, the shopping list for Ms. Gerhard’s team included: 650 pounds of confectionary sugar; 200 pounds of milk chocolate; 25 pounds of coconut; 174 pounds of margarine; 84 ounces of vanilla and 20 ounces of butter, among other items.

Those ingredients will be combined to create a total of 2,028 peanut butter eggs, 752 chocolate and 586 butter cream, with maple walnut, fruit and nut, and coconut filling in the rest of the 4,429 number of total eggs.

“Peanut butter eggs sell the most by a long shot. Everybody wants peanut butter,” Mr. Childers said. “We made those for two days. We made five times peanut butter over the other flavors traditionally forever, and then I got the idea a few years ago to make chocolate eggs and they’ve been pretty popular, too. They didn’t outpace peanut butter by a long shot, but they’re still popular.

“It takes a couple of days (to create the eggs) because we have to let some of them sit – especially the peanut butter. They have to sit for at least 20 hours, and we put them on paper towels so that the oil doesn’t get sucked out of them. You can’t work with them when they get dried out.”

Elestine Cooper is one of the many church members who volunteers with the fundraiser.

“We have a good time,” she said. “It hurts my back because I do most of the first half of the decorating and it hurts my back leaning over (the tables). It is worth it, though.”

Each egg in finished off with color-coded flowers on top of them to denote their fillings, with peanut butter being topped with a yellow flower.

However, that plan only works for four fillings as the fruit and nut has a distinctive white chocolate shell and chocolate-filled eggs have a drizzle of chocolate on top.

Ms. Gerhard said there is one thing that has stood out to her regarding the Easter eggs this year, and that’s the number of volunteers who have come out and worked from 8:30 until noon for a week-and-a-half to make the eggs.

“We’ve had so much good help this year and that makes it fantastic,” she said

“This is the best year that we’ve had as far as having help. We’ve had more than 20 volunteers at one time. Everybody enjoys it. It’s good therapy.”

When it’s all finished, there will be a lot of happy egg-eaters, as well as more money to help the church out when it’s needed. One could say it’s one sweet deal.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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