Monday, November 9, 2009

Drop In & Decorate - 10,000 Cookies = 10,000 Smiles

Just last year - where does the time go! - I wrote in my column for Heartland Women, and in this blog, about my friend and fellow food blogger, Lydia Walshin, and the wonderful nonprofit organization she founded eight years ago. This year, when I found out that Lydia and her merry band of bakers are about to bake and decorate their 10,000th cookie to donate to shelters, food pantries and other community help agencies, I had to write about Drop In & Decorate again. That is a lot of cookies!
Lydia Walshin

When I met her at a Boston blogger event, Lydia, who is from Rhode Island, was only the second food writer I'd ever met in person. But when I found out that she had started her own tax-exempt nonprofit organization, Drop In & Decorate, I was really impressed that I'd met someone who could take the seemingly simple act of baking cookies and turn it into such a grand idea.

Photo from Drop In & Decorate

It seems that Lydia, like me, was not much of a baker when she set out to bake cookies and decorate them that first year. The gingerbread cookie dough she and her friend baked and decorated together proved to be quite the baking challenge. A challenge that included the icing colors, mixed up by their helpful husbands, which offered little enhancement when spread over the very brown gingerbread cookies. More friends were called to rush in and smooth over the cookies with new icing colors. The cookies turned out to be a success, much to the delight of the staff and residents at a local emergency shelter, who were the first recipients of the bakers' generous holiday spirit.

And that's how Lydia's idea for Drop In & Decorate Cookies For Donation was born!   

By the next December, with a better cookie dough, a bake-ahead plan, and an improved technique for icing cookies, baking was underway again. This time, the group of cookie decoraters was pre-arranged, and several more help agencies were able to receive the beautifully wrapped cookies to enjoy during the holidays.  And the decoraters let it be known that they were available for the following year too!

Photo from Drop In & Decorate

Since then, the idea of Drop In & Decorate cookies for donation parties has been adopted by groups of all kinds -- at home, work, school, places of worship and community centers -- and they take place throughout the year for various holidays, like Mother's Day. Communities far and wide have people of all ages baking, decorating, packaging and donating cookies for local agencies. As Lydia says, "It's a simple idea, in a complicated world, and something anyone can do." And it sounds like so much fun too!

If you’d like to host your own Drop In & Decorate® event, Pillsbury and Wilton would like to help.  You can write to lydia AT ninecooks DOT com for more info on how to get some free coupons and cookie cutters.

Pillsbury has donated 50 VIP coupons, worth $3.00 each, off any Pillsbury product -- including sugar cookie mix, icing and flour -- to be distributed, first come, first served, while supply lasts, to anyone who plans to host a Drop In & Decorate event (max. 5 coupons per person). And Lydia says they'll include a Comfort Grip cookie cutter, donated by Wilton, while their supply lasts.

This year, Lydia is hoping to have groups baking cookies to donate in all 50 states! Soon, that 10,000th cookie will come out of the oven to be decorated and donated to a shelter, food pantry, or other nonprofit agency serving the basic human needs of people in communities far and wide. Wouldn't it be nice if that special cookie came from your home and brought a smile to someone where you live?

Photo from Drop In & Decorate

When you come back here tomorrow, I'll have even more cookie goodies for you. The Cookie Baker's Dream Giveaway is going to make one lucky baker SMILE like this little guy.

Here's a hint - get your best cookie recipe ready and I'll see you then!


Lydia said...

Cora, thanks so much for sharing our story, and for helping to spread the word about Drop In & Decorate. Wouldn't it be fun if the 10,000th cookie came from one of your readers?

Ted Chaloner said...

As a Drop In & Decorate participant, I can tell you that it's fun, rewarding and never gets old. Thanks for your support. Bloggers are such a good community.