Twenty-eight pairs of tiny hands helped pack 25,000 bite-size cookies into thousands of neat bundles to bring a taste of the holidays to Maryland's needy.
For 2 1/2 hours Friday, children from St. John's Christian Day School in Brooklyn and Bethlehem Christian Day School in Baltimore worked in assembly-line fashion with adults to pack and wrap chocolate chip, sugar and peanut-butter cookies, and even ones with chocolate kisses on top.
Children and adults said it felt good to help brighten the holidays for those who might not receive anything.
"It feels good because we're helping some people. I hope they feel happy and surprised that someone took the time to care," said Lauren-Michael Pinder, 11, of Bethlehem school.
The 71st annual Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland cookie packing was held at Resurrection Lutheran Church in the 600 block of Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park.
The cookies, some bought, others baked by children and churches, were to be delivered to nursing homes, hospitals, institutions and Lutheran Mission Society centers through Christmas.
The program began in 1925 as an outgrowth of the society's outreach programs to hospitals and other institutions. Mission workers provided comfort and prayer.
"Someone came out with the idea that around Christmas it would be nice to have home-baked cookies," Paul Etzler, a spokesman for the society, said as he stood in Resurrection's church hall turned assembly plant.
At one table, volunteers removed cookies from tin cans and placed them into cardboard boxes, then passed the boxes along to the next table, where five cookies each were placed in sandwich bags.
The bags were passed to the last table, where the cookies were wrapped, along with a verse, in gift-wrap paper.
The verse: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Savior is given; The blessings of Jesus Christ's birth be yours."
At one end of the last table, Janice Stevens, 63, of First Lutheran Church in Odenton, sat packing cookies, just as she has since she was a little girl.
Her mother, Anna Dill, who baked and packed cookies for 55 years until her death in March at 87, used to bring her to help, Stevens recalled.
"This was very important to her. She liked to do her part. Always baked cookies until the end. I'm carrying on a tradition. I bake cookies with my two 4-year-old granddaughters and tell them we're giving away cookies and who we're giving them too," said Stevens, who along with her granddaughters baked 200 gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies over two days.
A few of the cookie packers confessed to eating some, broken cookies only, of course.
"This is no good for someone with diabetes, but I cheated and ate one," said Joan Sanborn, 47, of Glen Lutheran Church in Glen Burnie.
At the end of the day, when a volunteer asked the children if they wanted some of the the broken cookies, 28 voices in unison shrieked, "Yeah!"
Pub Date: 12/08/96