Erin Peppel carefully placed dollops of red velvet cookie mix with white chocolate chips onto a piece of wax paper resting on baking pans in her Monday in the kitchen of her Cortlandville home. More cookies were baking in the oven.
Her husband, Dave, sat at a dining room table nearby, filling boxes with cookies that she had earlier baked and had been placed in individual plastic bags as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.The cookies Monday were being baked for the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department and other employees in the Public Safety Building. They were were delivered Tuesday
This particular cookie mix was selected because Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. They are a symbol of love.
Peppel is the organizer for the Cortland County chapter of Cookies for Caregivers. Cookies for Caregivers began with Scott McKenzie and Jeremy Uhrich from Huntington, Pennsylvania, after they had a friendly bake-off and noticed how employees at town hall reacted when they left the cookies. It inspired them to keep baking and donating the cookies to essential workers and others who needed a pick-me-up during the coronavirus pandemic.
“People were so happy to receive those cookies,” Peppel said. “I thought to myself ‘I could do that.’”
So, she did. She started reaching out to friends like Janet Redfield and Jackie May.
Redfield, like Peppel, used to be a teacher, so Peppel asked if she’d be interested in baking cookies. It was an easy answer for Redfield.
“I made peanut butter cookies,” she said. “Those are a favorite cookie.”
May said she was immediately interested in joining the group to bake.
“I’m really open to anything,” she said, noting she bakes cookies her family likes, too, like molasses, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chips.
Redfield and May are among 50 or more people on Peppel’s list of bakers.
“It just blossomed,” Peppel said. “Every day it seems like I get another person asking to join.”
Interested in participating?
If you want to help bake cookies for essential workers, email Cookies for Caregivers Cortland County at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peppel said the group has given more than 2,000 cookies to essential workers, from police departments to the highway departments and the Salvation Army.
Bakers in the group suggest which organizations to give the cookies to. Peppel said she’s looking at giving some cookies to schools because as a retired teacher she understands how hard teachers work every day. Redfield said she suggested giving cookies to smaller private doctor’s offices and May suggested the YWCA.
“I love the fact that we’re supporting the local community,” May said.
Managing Editor Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.