Last Saturday night, the crisp chill November air was offset by warm, sweet smells wafting from the front doors of the Stella Maris School, as a dozen or so students, ranging from elementary through high school age, worked feverishly in the school’s basement kitchen. The group was busy making home-made, freshly-baked pies: chocolate, pumpkin and apple, whose coming-home-again aroma filled the hallways.
These were members of the St. Andrews Church Youth Ministry and other volunteers, who gather each year for a two-day-long marathon of mixing, stirring, pouring and baking close to 500 pies from scratch, all under the supervision of adults, whose main function appears to be to maintain order out of potential chaos…and quell the occasional flour fight.
Importantly for these kids, the event also underscores the importance of the season, and many of the pies are donated to local food pantries, plus the receipts of the pies that are sold are given to the youth ministry.
“Thanksgiving means being grateful for what you have and is also a time to give back to your community and help people in need,” said Christy Deery, one of the students who helped last weekend.
Other students agreed that Thanksgiving is an important time to be with family, and appreciate what they have.
“It’s about being thankful for what God gave you and spending time with your family,” said Merrick Rogan.
“It means spend time with family and being with the people you love and enjoying the food that everyone makes,” added Ashley Nill.
Saturday night was an evening of mixing basic ingredients, and then pouring them into long lines of pie shells laid out on tables that filled the basement hallway. From there they are whisked away to waiting ovens throughout Sag Harbor, owned by restaurants as well as the families of many of the students involved.
And students themselves recognized the importance of family at this time of year.
“Thanksgiving is a time of sharing, when people spend time with their family and when kids from college come back to visit their relatives, so it’s a nice time and it’s just a great time to share with your whole family,” observed Pete Skereys
“It’s about spending time with your family and having fun together,” said Michael Flanaka.
The best part of Thanksgiving for Taylor Sargent: “Getting together with your family.”
Sunday is baking day: legions of volunteers criss-cross their way around the village, dropping off and picking up the tasty cargo, ultimately bringing the pies to a central distribution point for delivery.
For the Saturday night crew of kids sliding around on blue tarps, dodging chunks of apple as they squeezed past each other around corners bearing trays of aromatic pie filling, it was not about making money, though: it was all about the good feeling they got inside, knowing they were contributing to, and were indeed a part of, the American tradition of Thanksgiving.
“It’s about being thankful for what you have,” said Stephanie Balsarus.