St. Joseph's College staff member Sarah Jarvis, left, works with her mother-in-law, Mary Jo Powelson, on Wednesday's effort to bake 250 pies for a food pantry in Standish.

St. Joseph’s College staff member Sarah Jarvis, left, works with her mother-in-law, Mary Jo Powelson, on Wednesday’s effort to bake 250 pies for a food pantry in Standish. Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Saint Joseph’s College’s annual pie baking contest is something of a family affair for the Day clan. Aiden Day, 14, of Windham got the ball rolling when he and his Boy Scout troop joined in last year’s effort to bake 200 pies for Catherine’s Cupboard, a food pantry the college established to serve the Standish area. This year, Day is joined by his mother, Kristen, and sisters, Audrey, 12, and Karly, 8. The Day women came with their Girl Scout troop to help Saint Joseph’s deliver 250 apple pies this year.

The Days were among 85 people rolling out dough, peeling, coring and piling apples high into waiting pie tins in Saint Joseph’s Mercy Hall on Wednesday. They joined faculty members, students and community members gathered together to give back to area families.

“It’s a good way to help out the community but have fun,” said Aiden Day. “It’s something I like to do every year.”

St. Joseph's College staff member Sarah Jarvis puts the finishing touches on a pie Wednesday as the staff and community members compete to bake 250 pies from scratch for Catherine’s Cupboard, a food pantry the college established to serve the Standish area.

St. Joseph’s College staff member Sarah Jarvis puts the finishing touches on a pie Wednesday as the staff and community members compete to bake 250 pies from scratch for Catherine’s Cupboard, a food pantry the college established to serve the Standish area.

Standing in the warm cafeteria, surrounded by the sweet scents of apples and cinnamon, Stuart Leckie, Director of Sustainable Enterprises for the college, said he founded Catherine’s Cupboard years ago but wanted to find another way to bring joy to local families around Thanksgiving.

He came up with the idea of sending freshly made pies out in Thanksgiving baskets and, since 2008, has overseen production of thousands of pies.

“It’s a way of giving back to the community,” Leckie said. “Nowadays you kind of lose sight of that.”

In 2014, Leckie set a new bar for his volunteers, aiming to beat the Guinness World Record for the longest line of pies. Working all day, the team lined up 1,548 pies, 71 more than the existing record. They later learned they had been disqualified though no one was quite sure why. Nothing went to waste, however. All those pies made their way to food pantries in Portland and Standish.

Darla Jarvis is all smiles as she carries two more apple pies to the kitchen while St. Joseph's College staff and community members try to bake 250 pies from scratch.

Darla Jarvis is all smiles as she carries two more apple pies to the kitchen while St. Joseph’s College staff and community members try to bake 250 pies from scratch.

Many of the people who come to the event get hooked. Dr. Suzan Nelson, program director for the school’s Masters of Science in Education program, has been showing up for five years, and remembers the year she drove through a winter storm to get to the event.

“It was a bit scary but I just knew we would be shorthanded,” Nelson said. Expressing a devotion demonstrated by many in the room, Nelson recalled thinking, “It doesn’t matter, we gotta get these pies made for Catherine’s Cupboard.”

Jon Loft, 12, of Windham peels apples with his brother James, 15, right, as their Boy Scout Troop 51 of Windham makes pies at St. Joseph's College on Wednesday.

Jon Loft, 12, of Windham peels apples with his brother James, 15, right, as their Boy Scout Troop 51 of Windham makes pies at St. Joseph’s College on Wednesday.

As he surveyed the room, Saint Joseph’s President Dr. Jim Dlugos said the event manifested the school’s core value of giving back to its community. Saint Joseph’s College is a small liberal arts school situated on the banks of Sebago Lake. With 1,000 college age students on campus and 2,500 college and graduate students in online and distance learning programs, Dlugos said the school aspires to be a venue for learning for all generations.

“This is emblematic of what we hope happens here on a regular basis,” Dlugos said. “People coming together to work on projects of all sizes that are good for the community.”

For his part, Leckie seems thrilled by the way his event has taken off. As one young volunteer deposited heaping piles of apple peels in a bin, Leckie smiled.

“Even the pigs at the farm are in for a Thanksgiving treat,” he said.

 


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