By Sue Tiffin
While in this past year the Harcourt Ladies’ Committee haven’t been able to fully serve the community in the way they’ve been doing for almost 50 years, a planned curbside meal fundraiser has the phone ringing off the hook, proving they’re going to be busy before the event even happens.
“I am excited,” said committee president Connie Rees. “I’m a little overwhelmed because I actually have people calling me before we have the flyer out.”
The group’s first Take and Bake, in which they advertise,“We lovingly make it, then freeze it. You simply take it, and bake it!” is planned for July 9, when those who have placed orders in advance can pick up frozen meals and dessert to fill their freezers and enjoy alone or with family.
“We can’t do anything much so we thought this will hopefully do some fundraising,” said Rees.
Earlier this month, the group met to try to figure out what they can do to continue engaging the broader community in fundraising – typically they host events and prepare food for functions like funerals, lunches and anniversaries, raising funds by donation to help support the Harcourt Community Centre.
A curbside meal pick-up option allowed for the members to plan and prepare an event that can run even if public health restrictions change again due to the ongoing pandemic. One member brought in recipes she likes to make that she knows freeze well, with the group deciding to offer two meals : an authentic shepherd’s pie that feeds two to three people for $12, and a family-sized Greek BBQ-ready meal of marinated pork tenderloin kabobs with lemon potatoes for $25. Dessert is strawberry-rhubarb pie – either a six-inch pie for $5, or a nine-inch pie for $12.
The menu, the idea, and the chance to support local efforts with all proceeds going back to the community has Rees already taking orders.
“We might have to get really busy and make a whole bunch more,” she laughed.
About 25 members ranging in age from late-30s to 88 are part of the Harcourt Ladies’ Committee, which was established decades ago.
“As far as we can tell going back into the old paperwork, it started around 1966, and it’s evolved over the years,” said Rees.
In 2015, the Harcourt Community Centre was destroyed in a fire, putting the group largely on pause. The Centre was reopened in 2018, but then the pandemic closed down events again at the beginning of 2020.
While not everyone is still able to physically help, member support is important, said Rees.
“We need their guidance, believe me,” she laughed. “They’re the history of it, you know. We’ve got one lady who’s 85. She makes the best pastry in the world. I don’t want her to ever leave. She’s belonged for a good number of years.”
The group is always looking for new members, too, with everyone contributing how they can.
“There’s lots of cooking,” said Rees. “We try to use the ladies … who does what best, gets to do it!”
The fellowship is important not just for the members involved, but for their partners who support the group when they’re needed.
“I just am thankful for all of the ladies’ help, and also we’re very thankful for all of our husbands’ help,” said Rees. “They do shopping or run and get things. We say ‘oh my God, we need more potatoes’ and all of that kind of thing, or help with things like clean up, afterwards. They’re all pretty good that way.”
Other curbside events have done well – a pie sale last year resulted in more than 110 apple or pumpkin pies being sold and a pre-pandemic cookie sale was a huge success. A Thanksgiving event in 2019 raised more than $1,200.
“The importance is to bring the community together and keep the community together and hopefully get the younger people in the community involved, and doing things for them too,” said Rees. “We all have fun. We all do our thing. Of course, we all love to cook. And we all have a good time when we’re there. That’s what it’s all about.”
If the group’s first Take and Bake is a hit, there is a possibility they will host another similar event – perhaps every two weeks, or monthly.
“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be successful,” said Rees. “We’re all pretty happy about it.”
The deadline for Take and Bake orders from the Harcourt Ladies’ Committee is July 5. Contact Connie Rees at 705-448-9842 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The sale is first come, first served and cash only. Pick up is at the Harcourt Community Centre on Midway Street on July 9 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.