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“I can’t go, but even if I am 78 years old, I can still bake,” writes Martha Deitrich of Bellefonte, Pa.
Although Mrs. Deitrich is unable to volunteer on a Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) project, she is exceptionally motivated to do what she can to support the work of MDS financially.
“Baking for charity brings me joy and, in the meantime, I’ve made lots and lots of friends.”
Deitrich spends the majority of her day at the oven. If she is not baking, she is busy taking orders and selling her baked goods to friends, neighbors, returning customers and strangers.
Mrs. Deitrich writes, “I have so much baking I can hardly get my own work done. At Thanksgiving I baked over 70 pies, peeled my own apples, made pumpkin pies from my own homegrown pumpkins, made my homemade coconut cream pies, and I baked over 100 dozen cookies. This morning I was up making 50 apple dumplings. Now I want to help people who need help.”
While many people use whatever extra “fun” money they happen to have for spontaneous excursions, a night on the town, food, shopping, and the latest digital gadgets, Mrs. Deitrich does something uniquely different with her baking money—she donates all of her profit, 100 percent, to local charities like MDS, Mennonite Central Committee, Franklin Graham ministries, the YMCA, local youth groups, and people she happens to stumble across who are in need of assistance.
Deitrich spent many years working as a nurse. One day at work, she met someone special—one of her patients, Carl, who asked her on a date. She accepted. Their first official date was at a local Mennonite church meeting. Falling in love, they married in 1961. Retiring as a nurse in the fall of 1997, she decided to spend her time helping people in need. Baking was her answer—it was something she loved while simultaneously helping those in need. Since then, she has spent the last 13 years baking for charity. Although baking is time consuming and physically demanding, she is not ready to throw in the towel just yet. “It’s hard to stop baking,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for many years now and people look forward to stopping by.”
Deitrich has a simple schedule. Tuesday is pie day, Wednesday is apple dumpling day, Friday is homemade bread and sticky roll day, and Saturday is cookie day.
When describing a typical day relating to her customers, Deitrich jokingly compared her job to that of a bartender. “People that I have never met come and tell me their life story—problems and praises.” With a smile on her face she said, “It is like being a bartender.”
As Deitrich was making another batch of sticky rolls, she made certain that this ministry was, in her view, God’s business. Some people, she noted, leave IOU’s in her cash box while others, although very few, steal food from her cooler. “Maybe people are in a tough situation and need food,” she said. “That is not my place to judge.”
People travel upwards of 50 miles to purchase her baked goods. “People are very aware that I give the proceeds to charities,” she commented. “It may just be what keeps them coming back for more.”
Deitrich has no foreseeable plan to stop baking any time soon. It is truly a ministry—blessing those in need and advancing the work of local ministries like MDS, one pie at a time.
MDS volunteers are known for repairing and rebuilding homes damaged by disasters. But it takes more than construction skills to serve with MDS. During the time that you serve as a volunteer, you will learn that MDS also restores lives.
Your contribution will help to connect volunteers with disaster survivors who need assistance on their path to recovery. MDS depends on the support of people who believe that disaster response is an important part of helping those who are in need.
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