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Bob Lind, Published October 24 2010

Lind: Hawley church members get creative to raise needed funds, one doughnut at a time

Never underestimate the power of a doughnut.

Evidence: the new building of the Hawley (Minn.) United Methodist Church.

This congregation is small, averaging around 35 to 40 people for its services. Yet a few years ago, the people decided to build a new building.

Terrific idea. Except for one thing. It took money.

Yes, skilled people volunteered to construct the building for nothing. But still there was the cost of materials and of hiring the wiring and plumbing work. How could this small church raise those funds?

Hold everything. Mae Weaver had an idea: Make and sell doughnuts.

Mae – a lifelong Hawley-area resident, a widow (her husband LeRoy died in 1974), a mother and a grandmother – loved doughnuts, especially when she dipped them in sugar.

So she swung into action. She got some of the church’s women together and began making and selling doughnuts.

The project went over big, so big the women met once or twice every month to make doughnuts, cranking out up to 200 dozen each time.

Along the way, they also made and sold quilts and embroidered towels. But the doughnuts were the hot items.

Bottom line: These gals alone raised more than $130,000.

Then there’s Mabel

This story comes from Karen Erickson, Hawley. She’s Mae’s niece.

Karen tells of one of the other women in the fund-raising group. Mabel Beck fried doughnuts until she was in her 90s.

Mabel also was a lifelong Hawley-area resident, She, too, was a widow (her husband George died in 1987) and a mother and grandmother.

Mabel had a specialty act. She dressed up as a clown until she was 90 and walked in parades on behalf of the Rural Enrichment and Counseling Headquarters in Hawley, handing out candy.

She couldn’t stand the clown nose she wore, though, so she painted her nose red.

Mabel didn’t do things half way. Karen tells of the day it was Mabel’s turn to serve lunch at the United Methodist Women’s meeting, so she made finger sandwiches. She made so many the women couldn’t eat them all, so Mabel’s son and his family wound up getting the rest.

Paid in full

The church constructed its building in 1996-97. And its building loan was paid in full about 10 years early, thanks in large part to the sale of those doughnuts and other items.

Now, both Mae and Mabel are gone. Mae died in 2009 at age 90, Mabel in 2007 at 91.

The church’s women wanted to do something special to pay tribute to these women at their funerals.

For Mae, the woman who spearheaded the doughnut campaign, they made doughnuts right at the church so the people arriving for the funeral could take in the aroma. Then, at the reception, along with the hot dishes, salads and egg coffee, they served fresh doughnuts, with a bowl of sugar and tongs so they could dip them as Mae always did.

And for Mabel? Well, along with the hot dishes, salads and egg coffee, the women served finger sandwiches. Perhaps not as many as Mabel would have made, but close.

And there, out of Hawley, you have a doughnuts-and-finger sandwiches story to chew on.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com