Monday, December 11

Students Bake 7000 Cookies For The Homeless, so Now They'll be Homeless With Diabetes And Tooth Decay

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It’s hard to believe there’s a down side to baking more than 7,000 cookies, but Peri Halma swears there is.

Halma, the foods teacher at Stilwell Junior High School, 1601 Vine St. in West Des Moines, has been working with her students to bake cookies for the homeless. The cookies will be delivered to the homeless by Cub Scout Pack 242 over the holidays.

“It gets monotonous to count them, box them up, and store them every day,” Halma said Monday as she gestured to the boxes of cookies already finished.

Students at Stilwell and Indian Hills Junior High in Clive have baked cookies for the homeless for the past seven to eight years, Halma said.

She asks her students to bring in brown sugar, chocolate chips and other supplies, and Hy-Vee grocery stores donate the rest. This year Hy-Vee sent 100 pounds of flour and 50 pounds of sugar, which students have been busy transforming into thousands of cookies.

“Holidays are a sad time when you don’t have anything. It’s a way to send a little Christmas cheer,” Halma said. “There’s more homeless than ever this year, with the way economy is.”

Monday afternoon in Halma’s class, students were working on chocolate chip cookies. They have already mastered snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies. For Stilwell students, baking cookies seems like a good way to help out. They’ve seen the news, realize more people are hungry this year, and that food pantries go bare as shelters fill up.

“It’s kind of sad because people lost their jobs, and they need help,” said Allison Kacer, an eighth-grader at Stilwell from West Des Moines. “It’s a good thing to do because they don’t always have a lot to eat.”

Even though the students are baking thousands of cookies, they won’t have a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Halma doesn’t allow the students to eat the cookies, she wants them to understand that it’s important to make sacrifices.

“It’s a killer for them, but they need to realize that these are going for a cause,” Halma said.

While students don’t get a chance to sample their cookies, they do get a chance to compete with each other. Stilwell students and Indian Hills students count their cookies every day, and both sides are hoping they’ll finish up with the most cookies baked.

Halma said she appreciates that baking and donating cookies brings the community and the school together. She likes to see her students bring in their donated ingredients, and she’s glad to have the support of the community behind the project.

The students know they’re making a difference, even if it’s a small one, and they’re glad to pitch in and help.

“We’re feeding the people who don’t have food,” said Nick Kenkel, an eighth-grader from West Des Moines. “They’ll know that someone cares about them.”

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