Gibson Memorial United Methodist Church’s annual Easter fundraiser offers a ‘egg’ceptional treat for any Easter basket
The Easter Bunny may have some competition.
Members of Gibson Memorial United Methodist Church have been busy making candy eggs for their annual spring fundraiser with the anticipation of selling more than a thousand.
“The number of eggs made each year has varied, but the recent average is about 1,500,” church member Laurie Bagby said.
Flavors offered include peanut butter, vanilla, coconut, maple nut, almond, almond/coconut, raspberry, peanut butter/Butterfinger and now chocolate.
“But peanut butter has always been the most popular seller,” Bagby said.
Referred to by church members as the Easter Egg Factory, Bagby said, the fundraiser got its start nearly four decades ago.
“The idea was ‘hatched’ at choir practice one Wednesday night in early 1981,” Bagby said.
“Gene Woodman, our organist, told Marie Grayson of a project his sister in West Virginia had undertaken,” she said, in which the church was making candy Easter eggs.
This idea peaked Grayson’s curiosity, so she decided to reach out to Woodman’s sister, Bagby said.
And by return mail, Woodman’s sister replied to Grayson with a two-page letter, which not only included the “all-important” recipes, but also the number of workers needed and their job descriptions.
At Gibson, the inaugural attempt at making the eggs was used mainly for learning, Bagby said, since members didn’t have much time to plan before Easter.
However, it was decided the proceeds from the sale of the eggs would go to local missions.
Also, in the beginning, Bagby said, there had been just three or four women coming together in Harmon Hall to prepare the eggs.
But now that the Easter egg factory has become a larger undertaking, more than 30 members, including men, help over a three to four-day period.
“The Easter Egg Factory process itself is estimated to now take at least 450-man hours,” Bagby said. “And that does not include the many hours of preparation like buying ingredients and supplies or measuring and preparation of egg ‘cartons’ for the factory, or the countless hours taking and filling orders and personalizing the eggs.”
Making the eggs
The actual process of making the eggs begins with preparing the favored centers.
“This includes purchasing and measuring all the base ingredients for each batch and preparing the containers with labels,” Bagby said.
And because of allergies, the peanut butter and peanut butter/Butterfinger flavored centers are prepared separately from other flavors.
Once this process is completed, the flavored mixtures are weighed and then carefully shaped into an egg.
These centers are then dipped in the chocolate, with a limited number dipped in white chocolate.
“The eggs are then decorated,” she said, and added, they could also be personalized upon request.
And once completed, Bagby said, each egg will weigh four ounces.
The eggs are then packaged individually in small containers and boxed in wait of orders being filled.
“Orders are taken by church members or by calling the church office,” Bagby said.
She said it has been on a rare occasion there are any “left over” eggs, but when that has occurred, she said, they have been donated or sold at a discount at the church.
“But most years are total sellouts,” she said.
More than just a fundraiser
While the Easter Egg Factory serves as a fundraiser for the church, with proceeds going towards local and now international missions including the Good Shepherd Center, flood buckets, health and school kits for UMCOR, the Shoe Box Ministry, Haven House and Jacob’s Ladder, it has also served as a social outlet for church members.
“Even though there is so much work involved, the fellowship and ability to raise money to support missions is a blessing,” Bagby said.
And to add to the camaraderie, she said, “over the years we’ve had members that have worn bunny ears and even come up with a song. The memories created are very cherished by all involved.”
The first couple of years after the church began offering the Easter eggs, Bagby said, the orders would come in on scraps of paper, envelopes, tablet paper, offering envelopes and visitor pew cards.
“It was quickly decided that an order form was needed,” she said.
For those interested in ordering eggs, which are sold at $3 each, with no additional charge if personalized, Bagby said, to call 601-636-2605 or 601-415-4428.
Because of the eggs popularity, Bagby suggests not delaying in placing orders.
And for those who have attempted to reach out and place an order through social media, Bagby said, all orders must be placed by phone.