Seeing a lineup of simple to extravagant Christmas cookies is a great way to get anyone into the holiday spirit.
That's what does it for Tracey Ratliff and Nancy Bergevin, members of the Apostolic Assembly of Jesus Christ Church in Soldotna and two of many who have taken on the task of baking tons of holiday delicacies.
The group started baking the cookies 21 years ago and have since made the activity an annual event. Ratliff said it originally sprang from community support and has grown.
The money raised from the cookie sales has funded many things for the church in the past. Last year the group used the funds to complete a much-needed wheelchair ramp for the church.
The group of about 60, made up of both men and women, start the process of baking cookies the second week in December after the orders have been placed.
Bergevin, who has been with the group since it began, said the event started when many of the ladies were stay-at-home moms, and now their grown children are involved with the baking.
Folks from ages 13 and up dive into baking, each lending their own special cookie recipe to the mass.
"We do have some wonderful men bakers," Ratliff said.
Gingerbread, shortbread, thumbprints, Linzer tortes, truffles, buckeyes, cutouts and more than 20 other varieties line tables, each possessing their own spin, flavor or whimsical design.
"Its a real wonderful variety which is the fun part of it," said Ratliff, whose speciality cookie is a shortbread with crystallized ginger and mocha fans.
The cookies are made in the church kitchen, which is approved by the Department of Environ-mental Conservation, and then the assembly line process begins.
Each person has a job on the assembly line, which will take place Dec. 12 at the church fellowship hall.
Everyone takes part in the process while spending time together.
"It is a really fun night," Bergevin said.
Christmas music fills the air as wrappers, counters, boxers, decorators and others get the boxes ready. The scene closely resembles Santa's workshop, but the benefits are treats instead of toys.
Depending on the orders, some boxes only hold 12 cookies while other boxes are filled to the brim with multiple dozens.
Each order is filled with a variety, similar to a box of chocolates, Bergevin said.
Ratliff said the group packaged more than 8,000 cookies last year, a cookie sales record for the church. This year, more and more new customers are calling so they are expecting as many, if not more.
Because elves are often frantic this time of year, the fund-raiser helps those who don't have time to not lose out on a important part of the holidays.
"Everybody is busy and they want those homemade cookies," Bergevin said.
To order cookies, call 262-1423 or 262-9693. Orders need to be placed by the end of this week.
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