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Catholic Daughters prepare for annual cookie walk

Virginia Pullen wondered how everything would turn out.

As she looked out a window at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Pullen saw the effects of blowing snow during a blizzard.

“You could hardly see the intersection,” she said.

It was the day of the Catholic Daughters Cookie Walk and Pullen wondered if many people would come to buy sweet treats at the annual fundraiser.

She need not have been concerned.

“People kept coming,” she said.

Members of the local organization need not worry about attendance this year either — if Saturday’s weather predictions, which call for partly cloudy skies and no precipitation, are correct.

So the public is invited to the annual cookie walk from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday in Delaney Hall of the Catholic Church, 3400 E. 16th St., in Fremont. Admission is free.

Attendees can sip a complimentary cup of coffee or hot apple cider and sample some cookies.

Even after they’ve bought some cookies, people often go back and buy more after sampling some of the sweet treats, said Catholic Daughters member Maxine Turner.

As in the past, cookies and candy are sold by the pound. Cookies cost $6 a pound and candy is $8 a pound. Customers can mix and match the choices of treats to suit their own tastes.

Smaller packages of goodies also will be available for sale.

The cookie-purchasing process works this way: Treat buyers come in and get a decorated box and browse tables laden with treats.

When they get the goodies they want to buy, shoppers then take their boxes to a table where their boxes are weighed and they pay the cashier.

Treat selections include cookies such as: snickerdoodles, peanut blossoms, Russian tea cakes, sugar cookies and date pinwheels. Candy includes: fudge, peanut butter fudge, cherry mash and peanut brittle.

Event proceeds benefit a plethora of local and area organizations. The group donates to: Fremont Area Habitat for Humanity; The Bridge, which helps victims of domestic abuse; Jefferson House, a local emergency placement shelter for children; Life Choices, pregnancy resource center; Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children; Care Corps Family Services, Inc.; and Camp Quality for children with cancer and their siblings. The group also donates to Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools.

“We bought toys for the Salvation Army Joy Shoppe,” Turner said.

The group also bought and donated a gift for an elderly person through the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.

There are more than 80 Catholic Daughters members, who either donate funds or bake goodies and volunteer for the event.

Catholic Daughters member Cathy Chapman enjoys the camaraderie found among volunteers.

“It’s fun,” she said.

Pullen agreed.

“We just have a good time. We get it (the cookie walk) all put together and then sit down and relax and eat some cookies and have coffee,” Pullen said.

Customers seem to enjoy socializing as they drink their coffee and have a cookie.

“It brightens their day,” Turner said.

Members also enjoy the centerpieces that Catholic Daughters member Kathy Baker has made in the last few years.

This year, she cut the tops off wine bottles, glued Epsom salt on the outside of the containers to make them sparkly, then sprayed them with a sealant.

She filled the containers with artificial poinsettias and sprigs.

Baker made 20 centerpieces, which will adorn tables during the cookie walk. The Knights of Columbus organization then buys the centerpieces, which they give away as door prizes during their annual Christmas gathering.

Call it recycling in a creative way.

On Monday afternoon, some of the Catholic Daughters gathered to frost cookies and wrap decorative plates of fudge for the Saturday fundraiser.

They shared some good-natured banter and a couple of memories — including that blizzard.

Icy conditions even slowed sales last year until about 10:30 a.m.

But the call of the cookie was strong.

And although they arrived a little later, the customers still came to buy their sweet treats for the season.

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Wishing Wheels continues aiding people in need for sixth year

Over the course of the past six years, the annual Wishing Wheels campaign has provided more than 290 bicycles to Fremont children and recently, several adults, too.

The campaign started as a Low Income Ministry of Dodge County project, consisting of approximately eight bicycles being gifted yearly to less fortunate area youth during the holiday season. Glen Mueller, father of Deb Niles, coordinator of Wishing Wheels, was in charge of fundraising, ordering the bicycles and distributing them to recipients.

Eventually, Niles and Dave Mitchell, co-coordinator, took over the operation on their own.

“It got to the point where we started getting too big to run out of the Low Income Ministry,” Niles said during a Tuesday interview with the Tribune. “There wasn’t enough room for all the bikes and it became too hectic, so Dave and I took it completely over, and now we run it and the Fremont Area Community Foundation manages all the funds.”

This year, Niles said that approximately 51 bicycles are being distributed to the Masonic Eastern-Star Home for Children, the Salvation Army, Heartland Family Services Jefferson House and the Hope Center for Kids Fremont.

There are enough bicycles for all requests from the Masonic Home, Jefferson House and Hope Center, and a drawing for 27 bicycles will happen at the Salvation Army. Niles said that the request was for 57, but there aren’t enough funds to accommodate all requests. Recipients of the bicycles also receive a bike lock and a helmet, she said.

Bicycles are purchased through Walmart and Bad Dog Bikes, and will be distributed to children the week of Dec. 18. Funds for each year’s campaign are provided by members of the public, a group of Fremont bicyclists who’ve ridden together for years and by members of the Fremont Rotary Club.

Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the Fremont Area Community Foundation can still do so through Dec. 14, Niles said. It needs to be made clear that the checks and cash are intended for the Wishing Wheels campaign.

“You have to specify what that money is being used for otherwise they will use it for another one of their projects,” she said.

In 2016, eight bicycles were given to Care Corps Family Services to aid with transportation needs for residents looking for jobs, and this year, another six bikes are making their way to Care Corps.

Niles said the decision was made to give Care Corps an allotted number of bicycles after she heard a story about a man who lived at the shelter and had to make a long walking commute to work.

“They didn’t have enough bikes for all the people looking for jobs to use one,” Niles said. “And we thought that if they had more bicycles, people could find jobs faster, and then also have a better chance of keeping that job because they had their transportation needs taken care of.”

In the second year of assisting Care Corps, a new component has been added.

“This year they are getting six (bikes), and when someone moves out of Care Corps and gets an apartment or house they can take the bike with them so that they can maintain their transportation until they are able to get a vehicle,” Niles said.

When Niles and Mitchell talked to Care Corps about their intentions, the organization was completely on board.

“They love it, because the main thing Care Corps tries to do is get people back on their feet,” she said. “They work on a lot of educational and emotional aspects with people, but with the insurance and liability we were told it’s too expensive to insure a van to drive people around. But these bicycles don’t cost them anything.”

In addition to the bicycles, Care Corps also will receive additional bike tubes and tire patches.

Niles encourages those who can to consider donating to this year’s Wishing Wheels campaign.

“We are still taking donations until the 13th or 14th (of December),” she said. “And even if they come in after it’s still very helpful, because for us, this is a year-round fundraising deal.”

Tony Gray / Fremont Tribune  

Midland University’s Taylor Petersen sets up Priscilla O’Dowd during a volleyball game against College of Saint Mary Wednesday night at Wikert Event Center in Fremont.

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Evening of One Acts features variety of student directed stories

Several theater students at Midland will get the chance to try their hands at directing as the university hosts An Evening of One Acts over the course of two days this weekend.

The event will be held at Eppley Auditorium on the campus of Midland University at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

An Evening of One Acts will include two short plays titled “Almost, Maine” and “Dogeaters” along with several individual scenes throughout each night.

“All of these are student directed, so the two short plays were chosen out of many applicants to direct a full short play,” Dan Hays, director of theater activities at Midland, said.

The short plays, “Almost, Maine” and “Dogeaters,” will be presented as the opening and ending shows on each night with different scenes making up the rest of the show.

“There are a total of nine scenes, four will be on one night and five will be on the other,” Hays said. “They are from various different plays, there are comedies, tragedies, well known plays, and some that area little more obscure.”

“Almost, Maine” is directed by Midland student Connor Herold and tells the story of a town called Almost, Maine where on one cold and magical winter night the citizens experience the life-altering power of the human heart. The one act focuses on loosely connected tales about love that feature couples from the fictional town.

“Dogeaters” will be directed by Midland student Biannah Peji-Palm and is based off of the Jessica Hagedorn bestselling novel of the same name about the Philippines during the reign of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Along with the student directed one act plays, the various scenes presented at the show will also be directed by students.

“It gives them a real experience on getting a chance to be a director and to see what it is like on the other side of the desk,” Hays said.

According to Hays, the plays and various scenes will be presented “bare bones” without a lot of settings and costumes for backgrounds, which will help to let the acting and playwriting shine through.

“It is very scaled down, very few costumes and lights or sets so it is just the acting and the play that comes through,” he said.

Both shows, on Saturday and Sunday, are free and open to the public and both will feature a variety of different scenes from various plays, including productions Midland has put on in the past.

“There is a comedy called ‘15 Minute Hamlet’ and someone is doing a scene from ‘The Odd Couple’ which we did here a couple years ago,” Hays said.

According to Hays the two day event will allow attendees to stop by and catch numerous stories in one sitting.

“People can come the first night and see a couple of shows, and then come the second night and see some different stuff, it is just an experiential evening,” he said.