Holidays in JP: Volunteers deliver 20 years of ‘Pie’

December 7, 2012
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(Courtesy Photo) Community Servings CEO David Waters (left) picks up pies for Community Servings’ 2005 Pie in the Sky fund-raiser from Harvard chefs and volunteers.

Community Servings’ annual Thanksgiving fund-raiser, “Pie in the Sky,” celebrated its 20th anniversary this year in large part because of volunteers like Craig Albano.

The Jamaica Plain-based organization has been selling $25 Thanksgiving pies every fall since 1993 to fund its mission to provide food for those to ill to provide for themselves. The fund-raiser has always depended on volunteers to keep the proceeds flowing to Community Servings’ clients.

Albano has volunteered to sell pies every year since 1993. This year, Albano is still selling pies around Massachusetts despite a recent move to Washington, D.C.

“I dearly miss not seeing people face-to-face, but my pie team is on track to raise $10,000 for the organization and we’ve been communicating regularly through social media, email and phone,” he told the Gazette.

Each pie is donated by one of over 150 restaurants, hotels, caterers and bakeries in the Greater Boston area. The volunteers will sell some 15,000 apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato pies, 600 to 800 of which will end up in JP.

“A couple of thousand” volunteers work throughout the fall to make, sell, organize and distribute the pies all over the eastern part of the state, Community Servings CEO David Waters told the Gazette.

“This is a big, community-wide endeavor that will hopefully raise half a million dollars to feed critically ill clients in 18 cities across the state,” Waters said. “We’re the only program of our type in New England. If we’re not serving you, there’s no one to care for you. That’s why the pie sale is so important. It gives us resources to think ambitiously.”

Community Servings’ volunteer army allows 93 cents of every dollar raised during the fund-raiser to be spent helping people. And not all those helped are Community Servings clients.

“Pick-up sites always have leftover pies. It’s up to the hosts to decide what to do with them. Years ago, a group on the North Shore decided take them to a local convent,” Waters said. “The nuns burst into tears. They had just been in the chapel praying. They were hosting a meal for their local homeless the next day but they didn’t have any dessert.”

Local businesses like Blue Frog Bakery and Canto 6 volunteered by donating pies. Two Blue Frog bakers—one for crusts, one for fillings—teamed up to produce 25 pumpkin pies.

“Just knowing how hard these folks work to make lives better for their clients, and that my little donation of a few pies will help, is the best part,” Blue Frog owner Brad Brown said.

“It’s a great feel-good program. It’s a win-win for everybody. [The fund-raiser] allows us to feed a lot more people,” Waters said. “We’ve raised $6 million from a bake sale.”

Which is why Albano continues to sell pies from hundreds of miles away.

“It’s humbling to be able to continue to support the community I call home even though I’m living and working in another city,” he said.

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