Parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Church in Colchester provide the frosting on the cake for the Christmas meal baskets provided to people in need through the Colchester-Milton Rotary.

They provide the cake too.

“We’ve always been asked to provide the cake mixes and frosting. Apparently it can be difficult to get the needed amount of these items, and because we’ve reached the goal every year, the Rotary knows that Our Lady of Grace will meet the goal,” said Veronica Hershberger, lay ecclesial minister and administrative assistant at the parish who has been coordinating the cake mix/frosting collection at Our Lady of Grace for the Colchester-Milton Rotary Christmas dinner baskets since the Rotary’s first request in 2014.

Last year, 202 cake mixes and 179 containers of frosting were collected. Over the past few years, the requested number of cake mixes/frosting has increased. Our Lady of Grace has collected an average of 150 to 200 cake mixes and the same for frosting.

“The response from the parishioners at Our Lady of Grace to this collection has always been phenomenal,” Hershberger said. “There is always a great variety of cake mix flavors as well as the not-so-common frosting flavors. It never fails during the last week of the collection, I get phone calls asking if we have met the goal and if not, parishioners purchase extra items to make sure that the goal is met.”

Some 150 Christmas dinner baskets are distributed to people in the Colchester and Milton communities who are experiencing food insufficiency.

Even though cake is not a necessary item, “giving each family a cake mix and frosting (or two for larger families) allows the families to have a nice dessert for their Christmas dinner,” she said.

There are many ways to carry out the Corporal Works of Mercy, one of which is to feed the hungry. “Although we are literally feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, we are also

caring for the sick” by helping supply the dinner baskets, Hershberger said. “Many of the recipients of the Christmas dinner baskets as well as the Colchester Food Shelf items have long-term and/or terminal illnesses. People tend to be very kind, compassionate and generous to those in need and often look for opportunities to help in a concrete way.”

The parish is also a regular supporter of the Colchester Food Shelf.

—Originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.