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Cookie Contest proceeds net $470 for Food Bank
A440 Musical Instruments, Renue Salon and Spa tie for best cookies
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Food Bank of Barton County staff accepts donations from funds raised during the Great Bend Cookie Contest held during Small Business Saturday in downtown Great Bend on Nov. 26, 2016. Pictured from left are Rosewood Services representatives Anna Hammond and Melissa Hinton, along with City of Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, Food Bank representatives Jennie Gordy, Evelyn and Bob Essmiller, along with Dan Haselhorst (back row). - photo by Courtesy photos

It doesn’t get much sweeter than participating in a holiday cookie contest that raises money to help people in need. Eager to sample this year’s holiday cookies, downtown shoppers participated in the eighth annual Great Bend Cookie Contest, held Nov. 26 during Small Business Saturday in Great Bend.
Their participation resulted in $470 donated to the Food Bank of Barton County last Wednesday, Dec. 7, to the joy of volunteers who were busily finishing another demanding day of helping others and restocking food bank shelves.
“Donations have been down some this year for us; this donation comes at a wonderful time,” said Food Bank board co-chair Evelyn Essmiller, “We’re really glad people think of us during Christmas time because it helps to carry us into the new year.”
Fifteen stores participated in this year’s Great Bend Cookie Contest. They were Rosewood Furniture Gallery (Cookie Headquarters), A440 Musical Instruments, Beautiful Beginnings Boutique, Buckle, Defy Expectation Clothing Company, Great Bend Coffee, Office Products Inc., JC Penney, Kustom Floor Designs, Rana Luna Boutique, Renue Salon and Spa, Rosewood Bargain Barn, Rosewood Wine Cellar, Wright Place Downtown Flea Market and Yours Truly LLC.

Best cookies
As part of the festivities, cookie contest businesses donated prizes, which were given to cookie contest participants during a drawing that took place following the evening’s Home For The Holidays Parade.
Once contest votes were tallied, there was a tie this year for “Best Great Bend Cookie” between A440 Musical Instruments and Renue Salon and Spa.

Renue Salon & Spa commissioned Kim Randall of Baked Blessings to cater its 150 Chocolate Caramel Brownie Cookies, said Renue owner Allene Owen. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies made by Kim Heath were such a hit that she had to make more when they ran out of the delicious treats, said her husband and A440 co-owner Dan Heath.
“Congratulations to A440 and to Renue Salon for winning this year’s contest,” said Great Bend Cookie Contest organizer Anna Hammond. She added that businesses and shoppers alike have discovered this fun tradition that involves food, family, friends and shopping.

A worthy cause
The Food Bank operates under the auspices of the Barton County Association of Churches and is organized to distribute food to Barton County residents in crisis situations. Food Bank of Barton County serves approximately 7,000 people a year, averaging more than 600 people a month. Food Bank volunteers said they have seen an increase in need this year and have even noticed an increase in homeless people seeking their assistance.
“Recently, we had three homeless families come to us in one day,” said Food Bank board co-chair Bob Esmiller, who along with his wife has been volunteering at the Food Bank for nearly 20 years. “I have never ever before served three homeless families in one day.”
Food Bank of Barton County is completely reliant on community donations of food and money each month. Volunteers said it’s strictly because of the generosity of the community that they’ve been able to keep up with the need of providing food to those who have no other means to eat.
“We’ve been blessed, big time,” said Food Bank volunteer Dan Haselhorst. “Great Bend is generous; the stores are generous and this community as a whole is generous.”
Added Evelyn Esmiller, “We’re so grateful we have a community that supports us. We continue to receive one blessing after another, and we have the best volunteers ever in helping to feed the hungry in our community.”