Following the life of pies | PostIndependent.com

Following the life of pies

Will Grandbois
wgrandbois@postindependent.com

What is it that inspires scores of locals to line up early for Valley View Hospital Auxiliary's Pie Day each year?

Sharon Andersen, who runs the event, thinks it has something to do with childhood.

As she assisted fellow auxiliary member Beverly Burk with a homemade apple pie on a June afternoon, she recalled picking blackberries for pie as a young girl.

"You went out with your siblings and your cousins and your friends and you sort of hunted and gathered and you brought this stuff home," she said.

"And then Mom made pie with it," finished Burk.

Burk's airy kitchen was one of many around Glenwood warm from the oven last week, as dozens of auxiliary members concocted pies to donate to the organization's long-standing event.

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The auxiliary, a charitable organization affiliated with the hospital, sells the pies for $5 a slice or $30 a whole. Along with proceeds from elegant tea in the spring, a quilt raffle in the winter and profits from the Heart to Heart Gift Shop, the event helps pay for health education in the area. Each year, the auxiliary gives away $30,000 in medical scholarships to local high schoolers and those looking for another level of education. Members also maintain the Connie Delaney medical library and take on other projects, such as paying for lactation specialist certification at Family Birthplace.

"We look on it as a service to the community and an investment in the future," Andersen said.

It all depends on volunteers who do everything from helping patients to paperwork to baking pies.

Andersen and Burk laughed and told stories as they chopped apples, rolled crust and gave it the final taste test before consigning it to the oven. Company makes the time go faster, but good pie isn't an instantaneous process.

"It's about following the directions and having the patience," Burk said. "You can't take shortcuts and you can't rush through it, because it's gonna taste like you rushed through it."

Pie Day attendees bring a similar passion to the table.

"Pie is at the top of the dessert list," observed Nola Buchanan. "It's the filling, the love that goes into making a pie."

It can be a challenge to select the right piece from the dizzying array laid out at the First United Methodist Church at 9 a.m. every Friday of Strawberry Days.

"You have to look. You can't just take the first one you see," explained Mary Lou Haflinger, who chose hers based on homemade crust and type.

With 192 pies represented, Mark Rinehart relies on intuition to navigate the selection.

"It's really a sixth sense," he said.

Rinehart is a staple at the annual event, having earned the nickname of "Pie King."

"It's the first event that I ever attended after moving to Glenwood in 1988," he recalled. "I thought, what a great town! If they do this once a year, I made a great choice."

That's exactly what Andersen hopes people get out of the event.

"It is a fundraiser, be we don't make a whole lot of money on the Pie Day," she said. "The main thing is that it gives the community a chance to get together."