By TARA CONNOLLY
With the holiday season in full swing, diocesan parishes are engaging in a national ministry that is helping to feed the poor through simple cookie sales.
Last year, five parishes participated in the ministry, “The Cookie Sale to Combat World Hunger,” and helped feed 4.2 million people through Cross International Hunger Relief Program in Haiti.
Raising more than $16,000 were: Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown; Immaculate Conception BVM, Allentown; St. Thomas More, Allentown, along with Annunciation BVM (St Mary’s), Catasauqua; and St. Richard, Barnesville.
This year, more than a dozen more parishes are partaking in the effort that was started in 1997 by Jim and Jennifer Weber as a way to motivate their religious education class at St. Joseph, Lancaster.
Fast forward 22 years, the sale has transformed into one of the largest contributors to the Hunger Relief Program.
“We never imagined that it would evolve into such an enormous ministry that stretches out to those most in need,” said Jim Weber.
Bishop of Allentown Alfred Schlert is calling on parishes and encouraging them to hold cookie sales this holiday season.
“The parishes in our Diocese that participated in the sale gave immensely to help feed the hungry. Often it’s difficult to comprehend how far a few dollars go in feeding the hungry in underdeveloped countries,” said Bishop Schlert.
According to Weber, the people of Haiti are among the poorest in the world and struggle every day for a meal.
“We are looking for churches, youth groups, businesses or organizations. It’s easy, fun, and you will make a difference in the lives of thousands of needy people,” he said
The cookies, which are made fresh, are delivered to parishes two weeks before Christmas.
The cookie trays are normally on sale after weekend Masses.
“Buying a cookie tray or selling cookie trays can make a difference,” said Weber.
“They make great gifts to a host, business, employee or neighbor,” he said.
In addition, Weber said, the ministry is in need of volunteers to help package the cookie trays in the Diocese of Harrisburg.