Amadee Staab’s kitchen in rural Gorham on Thursday was filled with the aroma of fresh-baked cookies that she and her mother, Mary Befort, were pulling from the oven.
“We’re making chocolate chip, monster, snicker doodle, peanut butter and chocolate crinkles,” said Befort, explaining that monster cookies are a mix of peanut butter, M&M’s, oatmeal and chocolate chips.
Befort lives in rural Victoria, but the mother-daughter cooking duo prefer Staab’s kitchen.
“I have a big double-convection oven, and we can cook six sheets at a time,” Staab said.
All the goodies baked Thursday will be on sale Saturday as part of the fourth-annual fundraiser for the local non-profit Your Voice Through Cancer Holiday Boutique at Hays Middle School. The craft fair is free to the public and begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m.
The fair includes a prize drawing for items donated by 38 vendors.
Proceeds benefit Your Voice, a support group started in 2014, that helps those newly diagnosed with cancer, as well as those well into the disease, including those who are dying, said Judy Stegman and Donna O’Brien, the group’s co-leaders.
Support ranges from driving people to their doctor appointments and taking notes for their family members, to over-the-phone support, help with medicine, providing gift cards for groceries or lodging, or just listening.
“Cancer patients sometimes don’t talk to their families about some things, because they are scared,” O’Brien said. “We can be like mediators for them.
Both women have had breast cancer, as well as a family member with cancer. O’Brien’s husband had cancer; Stegman’s mom had cancer.
Your Voice is open to people of all ages, both genders, and with any kind of cancer. O’Brien leads Kindred Spirits support group, which meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at Breathe Coffee House, 703 B Main St.
“I get as much out of the group as I give,” O’Brien said.
Stegman leads “Special Fources” support group on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at First Presbyterian Church, 2900 Hall St., for anyone whose cancer is stage four, essentially being maintained or facing death.
“We do sit with some of the stage four people as they are dying,” said Stegman, who herself is stage four, and who was told eight years ago she had less than two years to live.
“You learn a lot when you sit with these people. You face your own fears,” Stegman said. “But being told you’re dying, it’s just a number. You can’t dwell on that number. Nobody knows when you’re going to die except God.”
One special Your Voice project is the angel box. That’s 20 assorted angels, whether paper, clipped pictures from a magazine, or tiny statues, individually wrapped and placed in a box that is delivered to someone with cancer, to give them emotional support. In three years, they’ve sent out more than 50 of the boxes, including three to children.
All the members of the group volunteer for free, relying on their fundraising to pay for services to patients.
The holiday fair is held every year the first Saturday in November, and this year will have vendors selling everything from food to handmade crafts.
For the drawing, tickets are one for $1, or six for $5. Ticket buyers choose the prizes they like and drop their ticket into a box for that item. A winning name will be drawn from each prize box.
The 40 prizes include a battery operated Power Wheels Wild Thing ride-on toy; a necklace by Anita Schneider’s Nita’s Notions, Wakeeney; a doll and outfit by Susan Fox, Larned; a blue tooth speaker from 310 Leadership Group at Fort Hays State University; two general admission FHSU basketball season tickets on the upper level for the 2018-2019 season; a 32-inch RCA Roku Smart LED TV; and gift cards from area merchants.
Prizes are drawn at noon and 2 p.m. Winners don’t have to be present, but prizes have to be claimed and picked up within 24 hours.
Befort and Staab have been cooking for the holiday fair since it started four years ago.
“Cancer support is very important to my family,” Staab said Thursday. “My mom is a multiple cancer survivor.” First diagnosed in 1997 when Staab was in high school, Befort has had breast and multiple kidney cancers and still has routine check ups.
“If we can help any other family going through this, that’s important to us,” Staab said. “Emotionally and financially, it’s a struggle any time a family has a diagnosis like this.” Families struggle with transportation to and from appointments, medical bills, taking care of their children, and other routine needs. “It’s just emotionally stressful for families,” she said.
Besides their booth rent, a percentage of their sales go to Your Voice, Staab said. Their food will be available in the school’s cafeteria, and can be eaten there or taken to go.
Besides cookies, they’ll be selling cherry and apple kuchen; and pumpkin, apple and cherry pies to take home and eat or freeze.
Other vendors will be selling food to go, including nut breads, jams, beef jerky, cookies and other items.
New this year for Staab and Befort will be hand pies for individual servings. Those are a circle of dough folded over into a turnover, with cherry, apple or chocolate creme filling. Befort and Staab settled on the recipe after taste-testing it with friends and family. The homemade crust is light and flakey, a recipe from Kayla North, Hays, a good friend of Staab’s and a fellow teacher at Holy Family Elementary School, Hays. Staab and North were 4-Hers together as kids in the Victoria Vikings 4-H Club. “We are like-minded in our baking,” Staab said of North.
“The hand pies are a new thing we’re trying,” she said. “People said they want a slice of pie, so this way we don’t have to worry about plates or forks.”
Befort and Staab will also sell chicken soup and green bean dumpling soup — the key is real cream and real butter, says Staab; Chex mix, praline pecan crunch, Rice Krispie and Cheerio bars; white chocolate popcorn, pumpkin crunch and brownies.
Also on the menu are bierocks made with cabbage, and cinnamon rolls and caramel pecan rolls. “Those are made with a family bread dough recipe that was my grandma’s,” Staab said. Befort’s late mother, Freda Henrickson, Ellis, taught both her daughter and granddaughter how to cook, said Befort.
“She always said the key was good ingredients, and the weather,” Befort said. “She used to say ’Today is a good cookie baking day.’”