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Let LOFT handle holiday pie needs

Oxford LOFT students (from left) Ashlyn Farley, Kelsey Harrison and Andrew Pierce mix together all the ingredients to make some delicious apple pies. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
November 06, 2013 - Homemade pies are as much a part of the holiday season as turkey dinners and Christmas trees.

But frankly, who really has the time to make and bake them between work, family obligations and shopping?

Fortunately, the LOFT program at Oxford High School is once again selling its famous apple pies for $13 each or two for $24.

All of the pies are fully-prepared, frozen and ready to be baked. Just pop them in the oven at 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until the outside is golden brown.

"This way they can use them anytime during the holidays," said Jeanne DiCicco, LOFT coordinator and teacher.

To order a pie, call (248) 969-5137.

"We can deliver them. They can pick them up here. Whatever is convenient," DiCicco said. "We're very, very flexible. If you want to enjoy a pie over the holidays, have one on the Oxford LOFT."

All proceeds from the pie sales benefit LOFT, which stands for Learning Opportunities for Tomorrow. The post-high school program serves 18-to-26-year-old students with developmental disabilities or cognitive impairment.

LOFT focuses on preparing young men and women to lead productive, fulfilling and independent adult lives by teaching them a variety of useful skills that enable them to take care of themselves and interact socially.

DiCicco said the money raised from the pie sales will help pay for evening social trips to plays and movies along with summer camp experiences.

"One of our goals this year is to take them out of Oxford to Chicago or Washington D.C. or some other big city, so they can see how to use . . . everything that I've been teaching them in the classroom," she said. "This (pie fund-raiser) would also help to benefit that if we can swing it."

All the pies were prepared by LOFT students, who were involved in the process from start to finish.

Students picked 30 bushels of apples at Blake's Orchard & Cider Mill in Armada. Volunteers peeled and cut the apples, then students mixed all the ingredients together to create the delicious filling.

"They love it because they feel independent," DiCicco said. "We have practiced over and over and over how to make these pies. It's a teaching tool for me. It's a learning experience for them. Seeing the finished product is extremely rewarding for them."

Approximately 250 pies have been prepared so far. LOFT is planning to make more.

Orders will continue to be taken until just after Thanksgiving. DiCicco said the goal is to make more than 300 pies in all. As of Friday, there were already orders for approximately 160 pies, she said.

But the students' involvement doesn't end in the kitchen.

"They also sell the pies," DiCicco said. "They go to their friends and families or they open up their social network, which is very difficult for some of my students to do. They come outside of their box to sell (to people they don't know)."

This is the fourth year for LOFT's pie fund-raiser. They had to skip last year because most of Michigan's apple crop was lost when those 80-degree days in March were followed by some freezing April nights.

"It was such a disappointment because there were no apples," DiCicco said.

DiCicco wished to thank all the businesses that donated. Blake's donated five bushels of apples, while Porter's Orchard in Goodrich donated two bushels.

A variety of local restaurants – Buffalo Wild Wings, the Ox Bar & Grill and Revere's Mexican – donated lunches for students and volunteers during the pie-making days.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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