Sugar and spice and all things nice
That’s what the Dunkirk Teachers’ Association Progress Team is made of! Now in their 15th year of baking and plating Valentine’s Day cookies for local senior citizens, the Dunkirk Teachers’ Association, along with National Honor Society students, gathered on Thursday at Dunkirk Middle School to continue this tasty tradition of kindness.
Progress Team co-chairs Andrea Hojnacki-Smith and Kim Murphy put the call out for cookies about one month ago, and the response was impressive. “Everyone who signed up was asked to bake three dozen or more cookies,” Hojnacki-Smith explained. In recent years, approximately 175 plates of a dozen cookies each are assembled and distributed. This year, the response exceeded the Progress Team’s expectations, as teachers baked more than 200 dozen cookies.
On Thursday, as soon as the school day ended, a dozen teachers and students gathered in the Home and Careers classroom, cranked up the dance music and got to work packaging plates of cookies. Despite the large amount of cookies, it only took the group an hour and a half to package over 200 plates of goodies.
Hojnacki-Smith, who baked chocolate chip cookies, explained that, in addition to a dozen different cookies, each plate includes a colorful Valentine, handmade, by an elementary, middle or high school student. On Thursday night, teachers distributed the cookies to seniors at Bell Tower, Lincoln Arms and Steger Apartments, as they have in previous years. However, this year the abundance of cookies resulted in many more plates, which allowed delivery to even more seniors, including those at Absolut Care, Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Dunkirk Senior Center.
“Our team meets monthly to plan projects to give back to our school and community,” Hojnacki-Smith explained. Other Progress Team projects include Project Kids Coat Program, Celebration of Education Dinner for newly retired teachers or staff with service milestones, carnations for graduating seniors and Make a Difference Day, during which the school hosts a collection for a local organization, such as the Salvation Army.
The Valentine’s Day cookies for seniors project is one of the longest-running projects and is very well received. Hojnacki-Smith said that every year, the team is excited to receive thank-you cards from seniors who enjoyed their sweet Valentine’s Day treat.