By MADDY VITALE
When Katie Bowman, of Ocean City, started Kookie Kids “Kids Helping Kids” five years ago, she was just 13.
Katie, her mother, Jen, and sister, Kelsea, 15, along with other volunteers, bake cookies in the St. Peter’s United Methodist Church kitchen.
Baking countless butter cookies during several sessions since the summer isn’t just something fun to do.
Kookie Kids volunteers sell the confections at the Ocean City’s Farmers Market on Wednesdays during the summer and out of the church as well as take orders on the phone. All of the proceeds go to helping families in need.
Kookie Kids is a charitable foundation run by kids helping kids. The Bowmans and other volunteers packaged cookies to go with dinners supplied by St. Peter’s Church for Thanksgiving and for other organizations feeding people in need.
“One hundred percent of the proceeds go to help local children. In the past five years that the kids have been baking and selling, they have given over $10,000 to local children and organizations,” Jen said.
This year, however, the need is greater due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some families are struggling financially because of job loss. Others are medical workers who Kookie Kids wanted to do something nice for and some are just having a tough time making ends meet, Katie explained.
In those cases, Katie said, Kookie Kids cookie sale proceeds will go to purchasing gifts for families to help make their Christmases brighter. One of the goals is to buy some local children bicycles.
While social distancing prevented Kookie Kids from having more volunteers, the team of seven couldn’t even work together due to safety guidelines. The cookies were baked in many shifts because of the pandemic restrictions.
Katie said her sister, Kelsea, really jumped in to help and has always been a big part of the organization, too.
“She helped me out more recently with me having sports and stuff, so she has been right there with me,” said Katie, who played on the Ocean City High School field hockey team this fall.
“Over the summer we did less baking because school was closed and the church was closed,” Katie noted. “The church did open up for us but we did not have as many volunteers because of COVID. We focused more on the giving back aspect.”
Even while the pandemic surged over the months, Katie said she and her family and the volunteers did what they could to bake in the church kitchen, which is certified by the Board of Health.
“When we were in quarantine for the holidays, we were making more cookies to give out and adding them to the meals we were giving to the homeless,” Katie added. “Anything with giving out meals we know of we donate to.”
On Christmas Eve they are going to be delivering meals to Wesley by the Bay and in each entrée there will be some tasty confections courtesy Kookie Kids, she said.
Sydney Chin, an Ocean City fifth-grader, began helping out with Kookie Kids in the summer.
On Friday, Dec. 11, Sydney came in to the church kitchen to decorate the gingerbread cookies.
“She is very creative,” Jen said.
Sydney, 10, said she enjoys helping.
“It is good because I can take out my artistic side and help the church,” she said.
Her mother, Jill Kozakowski, said it was particularly special for her daughter to be able to help out with Kookie Kids over the summer.
“She started mainly this summer. She would go in on Tuesdays and bake and then Wednesdays she would sell the cookies at the Farmers Market,” Kozakowski said. “It was nice for Sydney to be able to go help and also be creative.”
There is a limited supply of Kookie Kids butter cookies. St Peter’s Church is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday. A one pound box of cookies is $20 and a half pound box is $10.
For more information or to order a box of cookies, call St. Peter’s United Methodist Church at 609-399-2988.