Paul's Run residents and volunteers make holiday treats for the community.
Paul’s Run residents and volunteers make holiday treats for the community.

What do you get when you combine residents of Paul’s Run Retirement Community in Northeast Philadelphia and volunteers from St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Lafayette Hill with melted chocolate, pretzels, cookies, and candy? A lot of happy people making a lot of tasty treats! The event was the concoction of Paul’s Run Community Life staffer Julie Stumpf and Ellen Daneke, Social Ministry Chair, St. Peter’s Church.

“We were looking to build new bridges and new connections with Liberty Lutheran,” explained Ellen.

As social ministry chair at St Peter’s, Ellen rallies members of the congregation for many community service projects throughout the year. Every holiday season, she says, church volunteers make dozens of gift trays filled with chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered cookies to give as care packages to college students and homebound seniors in the community. This year, they offered Paul’s Run’s personal care residents the opportunity to participate in the tradition.

IMG_0669“Since most can’t afford to purchase gifts, they enjoy making things for others. It’s fun for them and allows them to give back to the community. They were very excited about that,” Julie says.

Ellen and a few church volunteers turned the greenhouse room at Paul’s Run into a dessert-making assembly line – 30 pounds of dark, milk and white chocolate which they melted down; pretzels, cookies and candy pieces were strategically arranged across tables. 25 residents spent the day dipping pretzels and cookies into the chocolate, then decorating them with Hershey’s kisses and sprinkles. It was an experience, Julie says, that was very nostalgic for the residents.

IMG_0661“They remembered their way of doing it (making holiday cookies) when they were younger and it brought back many positive memories for them,” Julie explained.

Ellen says spending quality time with the Paul’s Run residents served as a rewarding experience for the St. Peter’s volunteers. They were thrilled to provide the residents with a fun and social activity that allowed them to make their own special contribution to the community this holiday season.

“To me, it’s always neat to get to know other people, listening to the stories of the seniors at Paul’s Run, making personal connections between generations and seeing how together we could make things happen, make a difference,” says Ellen.

By day’s end, the group made enough treats to fill dozens of trays. As a token of their appreciation and as a special holiday gift to Paul’s Run, the folks with St. Peter’s plan to bring back some of the tasty trays for the residents to enjoy.

On behalf of Paul’s Run and the entire Liberty Lutheran Family of Services – Thank you, St. Peter’s, for your time, talent and dedication to our community. Your selflessness and generosity are a true expression of “holiday spirit.”

Click here for volunteer opportunities within the Liberty Lutheran Family of Services or contact Amanda Beardall