Nab yourself a merry Lititz cookbook

By on September 12, 2012

By: MELISSA HUNNEFIELD Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

Kathy Blankenbiller loves Lititz.

She’s written a book about it and has spent countless hours volunteering her time for events that have become cherished local traditions. Last year, she received the Ron Reedy Volunteer Recognition Award.

"Kathy has actively volunteered in Lititz for years," said Kelly Withum, executive director for Venture Lititz, when nominating Blankenbiller for the award. "Two years ago we had an unfortunate occurrence that changed the Christmas tradition for the children in Lititz. Kathy rallied a group of volunteers and through her painstaking efforts and leadership she started a new Christmas tradition for the children — ‘Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas.’"

Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas, now in its fourth year, is a day-long event with activities for children in many locations centered in the downtown area. Last year’s events, geared for kids 10 and under, included a scavenger hunt, carriage rides, a marshmallow roast, games, giveaways, entertainment, visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus and more.

"Honestly, it grows in popularity every year and it grows in fun every year, thanks to the people, companies, organizations, clubs and all my other ‘Christmas angels’ who so generously donate their time, prizes, funds, and talents," said Blankenbiller. "I could never do this alone. Without my community’s support, this event could not take place."

"I wish I could individually name every single person who helps me but I can’t — the list would be a mile long," continued Blankenbiller. "We live in a wonderful town with wonderful people! I’m happy to say that the true meaning of Christmas — the joy of giving — is alive and well in Lititz.

"Christmas is my favorite time of the year. The holidays are really about children — I want them to have fun. Every child in the community, no matter what their family’s income level, will be able to participate. It’s a community thing. It’s what we can do for the kids."

Unfortunately, while orchestrating the event for the past few years, Kathy has managed to sink not only time, but a chunk of her own money into it.

"Each year that I put the event together, I depend on donations of time, products, volunteers, and some businesses in town give me financial backing too," she explained. "However, during the past three years, whatever bills were left unpaid, I paid for out of my own pocket. I won’t be able to do that anymore since my husband lost his job in early February."

Kathy had to come up with a fundraising idea — and fast. She found inspiration, literally, right under her nose.

"I was sitting in the kitchen talking on the phone, and mindlessly picked up my Kiwanis magazine while chatting. It opened to page five, where there was an ad staring at me: Looking for a fundraising idea? It was a cookbook idea. I hung up, ripped out the ad, went to my office and contacted the publishing company."

Raising funds by selling a cookbook is a worthwhile venture, but obtaining recipes was a project in and of itself.

"I put the word out to my friends," Blankenbiller said, "and recipes, since mid-February, have just poured in!"

The title of the cookbook, "Bake Someone Happy," was suggested by Bill Dussinger, who also designed the book’s cover.

Still, Blankenbiller had to self-publish the book, which meant an initial outlay of cash — cash that she really couldn’t afford to spend. She truly needed a miracle. And it came.

"The other day a friend of mine walked into Wilbur holding a check that covered the entire amount (of the publishing cost) so that all the proceeds from the cookbook will be pure profit for the kids!" said Blankenbiller. "The check wasn’t from him, but from someone he knows who prefers to remain anonymous. That tells me the money is coming from the heart, from someone with the true understanding of the meaning of Christmas."

Cash donations towards the unique holiday event are welcome at any time of the year.

"Simply put, I am terrible at asking for money so obviously, when someone offers to help, I’m so very, very appreciative!" Kathy said. "I have a separate account set up at Citizen’s Bank in Lititz in case anyone wants to contribute anonymously. It is set up under Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas."

The proceeds from the sale of "Bake Someone Happy" will go directly towards Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas.

The 136-page book contains 344 recipes, most of which are local specialties and favorites submitted by members of the community. Some examples are: Christmas Wassail, Lititz House B&B Caramel Apple Breakfast Pudding, Blickenblucker Retired Man’s Special, Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling and Honey Apple Pork Chops. The cookbook doesn’t fail to cater to our furry friends either, as it includes a recipe for Sue’s Special Doggie Treats.

The recipes run the gamut from soups and salads to main dishes and desserts, with a special "This and That" section that contains hard-to-classify offerings.

Kathy will be selling the cookbook this Saturday during Kids’ Day at the Lititz Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to noon.

The book can also be purchased at Aaron’s Books, 35 E. Main. St., by e-mailing Kathy at kblank@ptd.net, or via her publisher at cookbooks4sale.com. Orders can be made by mail to: Kathy Blankenbiller, P.O. Box 707, Lititz, PA, 17534.

The cost of the cookbook is $12.50, with an additional $3 shipping cost added to those orders that require shipping.

Five hundred books were printed.

"If I manage to sell 500 cookbooks, my event will be funded for two years!" Blankenbiller said. "That would be the greatest of the miracles — to know that our children will have something to look forward to each December, no matter what their family’s circumstances. Knowing that is all I need to have a Merry Christmas."

Have Yourself a Merry Lititz Christmas 2012 will be held Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with most of the same activities as last year. New additions to this year’s festivities include: Sebastian Janoski, the new 13-year-old master of ceremonies; storyteller Rita Clark; performances by Dance Dynamix and children from the EPAC stage; and a book corner — where each child can pick out a free, gently used book. Watch for more detailed information in the Record Express closer to the event. More COOKBOOK, page A6