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Pie baking charity has long tradition

WARRENSBURG - Local high school senior Christian Bruce filled a pie shell Saturday with fresh apple and spice filling, then placed a thin sheet of dough on top and crimped the edges of the crust.

This is his sixth year of preparing homemade pies alongside other Warrensburg High School students, he said.

"I'm glad to help this effort every year," he said. "It's a good way to benefit local families through Operation Santa Claus."

Warrensburg sophomore Maggie Danna, who peeled and sliced apples for two hours, agreed.

"It's a nice thing to do," she said. "And it puts us in the spirit of Thanksgiving while it raises money for charity."

Student Megan Pierce also said the experience of making 171 pies was fun.

"It's a great social time and a good way to raise money to help others."

About two dozen Warrensburg High School students and 10 or so adults created pies from scratch, using fresh top-quality ingredients.

The tradition started 15 years ago in the local kitchen of Mary Sweet, who along with her children Jackie McNeill and Stephanie LaFond, baked pies for charity, Janis Merrithew recalled. The effort, centering on raising money for Florence LaPoint's Operation Santa Claus, grew and moved to the school, where large-capacity commercial equipment and dozens of students annually turned out to create up to 329 pies in a morning's work. The students have been members of the local Junior States, Honor Society and Student Council organizations, among others.

Saturday mid-morning, Warrensburg Central Math Teacher Chris Blakely was offering a dozen of the students tips on efficient apple slicing, advising them that thin slices maximize the apple essence in the finished confection.

Working in the kitchen, creating the filling, rolling dough, and assembling, baking, and wrapping pies, were Merrithew, Tennant, Social Studies Teacher Io Bruce, Debbie Papenhausen, Renee Armstrong, Katie Seeley, Lisa Gundel, Doug Duell and others. As the pies were being wrapped for delivery, Florence LaPoint, who has helped out hundreds of local families for decades through her charitable activities, broke into a smile as she saw all the students and adults working on the apple pies.

"These kids are putting all this effort into this," she said. "It's wonderful they are so motivated to help out others in the community."

Minutes later, Sarah Barber of Lake George walked out of the high school with a warm apple pie that she planned to serve her family, including three children - two of them home from college.

"This is a family favorite," she said.

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