For many in the Delavan area the early December St. Nick Breakfast in the St. Andrew Parish School cafeteria has become an annual tradition to kick off their Christmas season. For those currently organizing the event and those that have chaired it in years past, it is a hustle and bustle just like Santa’s little elves, scurrying behind the scenes to make everything just right for the big day.
St. Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6, had a reputation for secret gift giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus. At the breakfast, children have a chance to say hello and take photos with St. Nicholas as he hands out candy canes.
In true celebration of their Catholic faith, Jen Martin and Jamie Seuser have accepted the responsibility of new co-chairs of the event. This truly is a sacrifice as Jen works full time as a nurse practitioner and has a new addition to the family, 5-month-old Grace. Jamie is a busy mother of four including 5-month-old Gunnar and 3-year-old Aksel.
Yet, each day they put on a smile and keep their focus on the main goal. The St. Nick Breakfast is a community gathering that brings out the best in everyone, but also serves as a major fundraiser for the St. Andrew Parish School, which Jen and her husband Nick’s other children Jon (8), Will (5), and Jamie and her husband Dan’s other children Harlie (7) and Gabe (5) attend.
When asked why two busy mothers of newborns would take on such a task, Jen replies, “Its always such a happy, festive occasion that gets you in the Christmas spirit. I remember shopping in the Children’s Gift Shop when I was a kid.”
That gift shop she is referring to is a popular activity during the breakfast. No adults are allowed, except for organizer, Stephanie Freitag and her helpers. In the Children’s Gift Shop, boys and girls can find treasures all for $5 or less to purchase and wrap as a surprise for Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma or any other special adult in their life.
The Freitag family is no stranger to volunteering for the festive event. In fact, Stephanie’s mother-in-law, Dorothy, was one of the founding members that kicked off the St. Nick Breakfast in the late 70s when it began as a pancake breakfast with a wreath raffle. She chaired the event from 1980-88 as her five children Anne, Matthew, Jeff, Dan and David attended and graduated from St. Andrew Parish School.
“I was a home economics teacher and I just had so many ideas of things we could add to make it even better,” says Dorothy.
During her time as chair, the bake sale often celebrated the heritage of many parish members with baked goods from Italy, Germany, France and more. One of the favorites were large intricately decorated sugar cookies on a stick. The raffle often included a snow blower, wreaths and some popular toys. Many talented parish members donated handmade and crafts. Anyone in the parish was welcome to help and some of the school classes even made and sold fruitcakes.
“I just loved it,” recalls Dorothy fondly, “It was probably the most fun I ever had volunteering.”
Today Dorothy still attends the breakfast, but this time as a guest with her son Matthew, Stephanie and their children. Maddie (14), Luke (10) and Joshua (6) who are current students at St. Andrew.
While some activities and offerings have changed over the years, the one constant is the entire parish community lending their talents to create one successful event.
“There is no way we could do this by ourselves,” comments Jen. She said she completes much of the organizing, phone calls and donation requests in between her patient appointments. Jamie collects the donations for the Take-A-Chance raffle and handles the advertising in between transporting her kids to their various activities. Jen and Jamie are thankful for the guidance from past chairs. They are also grateful for their sub committee members.
Mary Wicyk and Joan Zomer oversee the table set up and service. Thanks to the work of Christie Mass and Katie Duckworth you will still find many wonderful crafts and vendors to choose from. The school families and area businesses donate various themed items that Holly Ayen and Gretchen Wolfer present for the Silent Auction.
Just as in years gone by, there is still a raffle, but now it includes cash prizes and valuable goods and services from area businesses. Monica Damrow handles the set up for the other raffle, one where you can buy inexpensive tickets and drop them in front of the prizes of your choosing for the chance your name is pulled. And Stacy Hermann has arranged some fresh wreaths to complete your holiday décor.
You will still find handmade cookies, bars, jams and other desserts baked, packaged and presented by Andy Thone and her helpers. And last, but not least, your taste buds are in good hands with Scott Wolfer and his kitchen crew. He will be flipping all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice, milk and coffee for just $7 for adults and $5 for children ages 4-10. Tickets are available for purchase at the door.
Join Jen and Jamie and all their volunteers this Sunday, December 8, from 8 a.m. to noon for all the food, conversation, gifts, fun and memories galore. If you haven’t already, consider making it a tradition so years from now you too can reflect on the time when your daughter found the perfect present in the Children’s Gift Shop.
To keep up-to-date about fantastic auction or take-a-chance items, stay tuned to St. Nick’s Breakfast Facebook Event Page.