January 10, 2023 at 2:41 p.m.
Wedel donates plate of homemade baked goods a month to Holy Family School auction
Bidders for the Holy Family School Snow Ball live auction Saturday, Jan. 14, are in for a real treat.
One auction item will be one plate of homemade cookies or bars a month for a year made by Elaine Wedel, of Albany. The February plate of five to six dozen treats will be displayed among the many donated items at Seven Dolors Catholic Church gathering space, which will be auctioned off during the event.
“There are so many people who are generous with their time and talents,” she said.
The eighth annual event includes a sit-down meal served in the school gym, connected to the church facility.
Wedel has been donating to the Snowball auction since it started eight years ago and before that during the February school carnival.
It is a good fit for her because she loves baking, from scratch, of course. Chances are that dates back to when she was a little girl and asked Santa Claus for an Easy Bake Oven.
“Santa didn’t deliver though,” she said Jan. 6. “But the real thing is better anyway.”
Her love for baking was fostered by her mother, Fronie Frie.
“I was the youngest so I wasn’t needed outside in the barn, so I probably helped mom bake a lot,” she said.
When she married Joe and they raised two children, Paul and Jill, her baking increased but not to the degree it is today.
Their children attended Holy Family School, so she figured contributing to the carnival auction with her baked goods donation was a good fit – and she never stopped.
In her notebook, dating back to 1999, she documents all of the years of her baking donations, including who the winning bidder was each year, the amount they paid and what she baked each month.
The amount of money raised for her baked goods, especially in later years, still amazes her. Since she and Joe attend the Snowball event, she knows not only who she will be baking for but the amount they were willing to pay for it. She has had many repeat winning bidders, including six years when it was a business, which is a good sign to her that they liked what they received previously.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” she said of watching the bidding process.
Bids have grown from $100 the first years to a high of $1,050 in 2022.
“It really took off after 2019,” she said. “It was crazy.”
A good crazy.
In 2020 there was a bidding war for her baked goods.
“The winning bid was for $875 and the second bid was for $850, but I ended up baking for both of them,” she said.
Even during the COVID-19 year in 2021, when there was just an online auction, her baked goods went for $875. That year she also baked goodies for the top two bidders.
The winning bidder receives one plate of goodies from February through the following January. She rotates her treats, baking cookies one month and bars the next month; never duplicating recipes.
“We say two dozen, but I’m a little generous,” she said.
In December, the winner receives five or six dozen Christmas-related goodies.
“This year, for Christmas, I made 20 different kinds,” she said. “My husband said the oven didn’t shut off.”
She will often ask the winning bidder if they would like a certain type of cookies or bars, if there is anything they don’t like and if they are allergic to anything, like peanuts.
Wedel reaches out to the winner to find out when during the month they would like the plate of goodies, and if it is in Albany the tray will be delivered.
“Joe sometimes gets the job,” she said.
Wedel loves sifting through her cookbooks in search of just the right recipe.
“It’s fun for me to try new recipes,” she said, laughing as she admits she just acquired nine boxes of cookbooks, which she can’t wait to delve into.
Also documented in her notebook are which cookbook the recipe she used is from, in case the recipient would like the recipe.
She rattles off just a few of her offerings over the years – Cookie Dough Brownies, S’more Sandwich Cookies, Sour Cream Raisin Bars, Snickerdoodles, Monster Cookies, Ultimate Grasshopper Cookies and Almond Pie Bar.
Her baked goods are freshly made. In fact, sometimes she completes the finishing touches the morning of the auction.
She is fussy when it comes to sharing her sweet treats.
“Sometimes, if I’ve made something I’m not happy with, I will lay awake at night, and the next morning I get up and make something different,” she said. “When they pay that much, they should get something good.”
She laughs again when asked what her favorite bar or cookie to make is, saying there are too many. That is also the case when it comes to her favorite to eat.
“I like my sweets,” she said.
Chances are, there are always baked goods in the Wedels’ freezer. After all, she has her family, including four growing grandchildren, ages 10-15, to share them with.
Wedel also donates baked goods to benefits, Holy Family School’s and Mother of Mercy’s golf tournaments and the Christmas Care Drive at Trappers in Farming.
“They are all such good causes,” she said.
Her daughter is following in her footsteps, donating baked goods for six months for her place of employment.
Later this week Wedel will bake the sweet treats for the February 2023 plate displayed at the auction, but earlier in the week she will make up the January 2023 plate for the 2022 winner.
“I usually put a thank you card in there and a reminder that the Snowball is Jan. 14,” she said.
Just making people happy if they enjoy the plate of goodies, is what Wedel treasures.
‘It’s a win-win,” she said. “I enjoy doing it and if it can help the school out and someone enjoys the treats, it’s a good thing.”