This is the time of year when Sueann Workinger gets organized, recruiting volunteers and buying 50 pounds of granulated sugar and 250 pounds of flour. Reaching into her filing cabinet, she pulls out a handful of worn recipe cards, she said.
They smell delicious.
"It's been the same recipe for a while now," the Chanceford Township resident said. "I guess the smell sticks to the cards."
The recipe at Chanceford Presbyterian Church for fastnachts -- the traditional doughnuts served on Shrove Tuesday -- includes milk and eggs and a heaping helping of potatoes. That's the same as many local kitchens.
But for the last 11 years, the pre-Lent ritual at Chanceford Presbyterian Church in Lower Chanceford Township has also included about a dozen community members coming together to cook.
And the money they raise each year goes to charity.
Betsy Jordan, a former baker, said the idea formed when a church group, the Circle Eight Ladies, went looking for a way to raise money.
"We decided to make a project out of it," she said Monday afternoon, standing by pastry racks cordoned off by Sunday school room dividers and plastic tarps. "It sort of all fell together."
This year, they'll make 280 dozen doughnuts.
For Carole Long, the February ritual has become a way to give back. It's also a good experience for her son, 7-year-old Jordan, she said. On Monday, the boy stood on a chair in the church kitchen, one red shoelace untied and a dusting of flour through his brown hair.
"Yeah, it's pretty fun," he said, using a metal mold to cut the dough.
Betsy Jordan said she can remember making fastnachts as a little girl. She'd reach up to the counter, she said, providing whatever help her mom
"Just about everyone here has stood in the kitchen and helped their mother make fastnachts," she said. "You have to pass it on."
In recent years, the volunteers at Chanceford Presbyterian have seen the sweet rewards that can come from that late winter ritual.
Workinger said the money raised from fastnacht sales -- they're $3 a half-dozen; powdered, plain, sugared or glazed -- is used to help locals in need. It might be a fire victim, she said, or it might be kids at Christmas.
A couple hundred dollars can help, she said.
A few years ago, the group even bought a swingset for parish children, a wooden model with a slide that sits not far from a window and a bubbling deep fryer. It's become a popular spot for kids.
Last year, the church group made a donation to hurricane victims in New Jersey, Workinger said. To the uninitiated, perhaps the connection isn't obvious, she said. But it's there.
"I guess in what ways we can," she said, "we're just trying to fill everyone up."