Sweet valentines

OBSERVER Photos by Nicole Gugino Above, members of the Dunkirk Teachers Association Progress Team, National Honor Society and student volunteers pause in making Valentine’s Day cookie plates for local seniors.

Sugar and spice and everything nice goes into Valentine’s Day Cookies for Seniors event each year.

Add chocolate chips, frosting and a dose of volunteering for a good cause and that is the recipe for this event’s success for the past 13 years.

“We receive thank-you notes from a lot of seniors each year. It means a lot to them,” School 4 reading teacher Kathie Hobbs said.

The event is headed up by the Dunkirk Teachers Association Progress Team, but it is a districtwide effort to get the 174 dozen cookies baked and packaged with a unique valentine. In addition to teachers, aides, and principals, retired teachers also lend a hand in mixing up some tasty treats and decorating them for the Valentine’s theme.

Students also play a role from National Honor Society to Michelle Cerrie’s home and careers class to the Maker’s Space afterschool program.

“I’ve been volunteering for three years now with my mom (School 5 fifth-grade teacher Jill Krzyzanowicz). I like that it’s something nice for seniors in the community,” Karleigh Krzyzanowicz said.

Students also hand make each of the valentines included with the plates of a dozen cookies.

Before distribution, teachers and students could be found in Mrs. Cerrie’s middle school classroom hand selecting cookies for each plate, picking a valentine and putting both into specially marked bags.The assembly line-like process was running smoothly and efficiently, with methods refined over the 13 years of the program.

Once assembled, 100 dozen will be distributed to the Steger Apartments, 24 dozen to Bell Tower Apartments and 50 dozen to the Lincoln Arms Apartments. Any extras are taken to local nursing homes.

The students’ reward, besides to the fuzzy feeling of giving back, was the broken cookies.

The Progress Team brainstorms district and community events all year round and also puts on Make A Difference Day, Project Kids Coat Program, the Celebration of Education dinner, School-Related Personnel Recognition Day, gives carnations for graduates and other staff unity events.