Gumbo fundraiser marks 10th year

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 28, 2008

To a group of Episcopalian women, Mardi Gras means lots of funand extra work.

But the fun doesn’t come from a trip or a parade, it comes fromgetting together with good friends and making hundreds of gallonsof chicken gumbo, as they have for 10 years now.

The idea got started when the former president of EpiscopalianChurch Women at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer on MonticelloStreet, the late Mary Pounds, thought it would be a good idea for afundraiser.

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“She thought it was just ridiculous to only keep $100 in ourchecking account,” said project chairwoman Sue Minter. “So she hadthis idea, and she and Helga Reed came up with the recipe.”

So Pounds chaired the first two, which they decided to putaround Mardi Gras because it was the only project at that time.

“We weren’t doing anything at the time, and nobody else wasdoing anything at this time of year either,” said ECW member GwenDavis.

Another ECW member, Dorothy Benson, said originally the groupsold around 350 tickets for the gumbo, but as the years went on,the numbers rose. Minter said the ECW has always made extra moneyon the project too.

“We call it the loaves and fishes,” she said. “The first yearMary and I did it, we worried about how much to make, and everyyear we’ve made more money and sold more tickets. We’d rather it gothat way than the other way for sure!”

The money from Mardi Gras Gumbo goes to different charityevents, such as adopting families at Christmas and sending childrenof prisoners to camp.

“We’ve also helped people in our own congregation,” Minter said.”The project makes us able to significantly help others.”

And because they’re helping, they find others help them, thewomen said. ECW buys half the chicken, and this year, everythingelse has been donated.

“Helga donates the rue,” said Maxine Minter, Sue’smother-in-law. “She wouldn’t accept payment.”

The group, who expects to have sold out of tickets long beforethe Feb. 5 pick-up date, said they had thought about boosting thenumbers of gumbo tickets they sold, but that they just couldn’t doit.

“The tickets are in high demand,” said Dixie Simmons, anotherECW member. “They really sell themselves.”

And there were other reasons, too, the other members said.

“Two full days is enough cooking!” said Benson, laughing.

A big asset for anyone who stocks up on the gumbo, said Minter,is that you can buy it ready to eat, but you can get it frozen aswell. Either way, though, the gumbo stays fresh for quite sometime.

“It keeps forever in a freezer,” said Minter. “We even buy itand take it home to put in our freezers. We donate the chicken sowe can buy the gumbo.”

The women were also quick to give credit to their ECW auxiliary,the men who make the whole project possible.

“We have some men who are very faithful to help us,” Mintersaid. “They help us with the big pots, among other things.”

Simmons said her husband David had even taken a vacation day tohelp the women with their yearly project.

Though Mardi Gras Gumbo is some hard work for the group thatputs it together, the women say there are many perks.

“It’s a wonderful project to make outreach money by just havingone big project instead of six little things throughout the year,”said Benson.

Her friends agreed.

“We have such a good time doing all the work,” said Davis. “Weget to intermingle and have fun with each other. It makes it allworth it.”

Gumbo pickup will be held this year from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. atthe church, and there will also be a drive-through to make pickup alittle easier.

“Mothers can even stop by on the way home from picking up thekids at school, and supper’s already done,” said Maxine Minter.