On the first Friday of most months, volunteers follow their specific tasks: Make and shape dough, roll the balls of potato and cheese, pinch the dough, boil, pack and sell. By the afternoon, the homemade perogi are gone and, hopefully, Holy Cross Orthodox Church, 1725 Holy Cross Lane, makes its budget for another month.
Making thousands of perogi each month takes more than just a day. Work begins Wednesday, when volunteers start getting the potatoes ready, and continues until Friday morning, when the Rev. Dan Kovalak, opens the hall before 7 a.m. to make the coffee for the volunteers.
Generally each month, 200 dozen perogi are made to fulfill the demands of the community. Whenever extras are available, signs are posted outside the church letting people know they still can buy them.
Making perogi for so many people involves many volunteers charged with specific tasks. Several groups are set up at Holy Cross Orthodox Church, in Loyalsock Township, to complete the orders. Some prepare the dough. Some pinch the perogi closed. Others box and package the perogi. The Rev. Dan Kovalak takes care of cooking perogi by boiling them in three large pots. On an average month, about 200 dozen perogi are made. During Lent, about 360 dozen perogi are made to sell to help reach the goals for the church’s budget.
During Lent, when people avoid meat on Fridays, about 360 dozen perogi are made to sell.
What goes into that many perogi?
One hundred pounds of potatoes, 100 pounds of flour, four dozen eggs for the dough, 20 pounds of butter, 10 pounds of onions, 10 pounds of cheddar cheese. Plus, salt and pepper, said Chris Sinatra, auxiliary president.
The goal each month perogi are made, which is every month except July and August, is to make $1,000. Once the goal is met, extra money is given to charity.
Holy Cross began selling perogi when the church started 35 years ago. It took some time to find a niche that other churches did not already meet.
The volunteers began selling the perogi occasionally on Saturdays, but it became apparent that Friday was a better day.
"No one bought on Saturdays," Kovalak said. "It's in their conscious that Friday is a no-meat day."
Even during the non-Lenten season that still proves to be true, he said.
The church only makes potato and cheese perogi, but that was not always the case. By popular demand, volunteers tried to make the sauerkraut kind, but ran into trouble when the two got mixed up.
Making just one kind proved to be easier.
Holy Cross does not delivery perogi, people must pick them up when they are ready, which usually is about noon.
Kovalak does not let anyone else cook the perogi. All day he stands by a large stove with three pots boiling. Three trays of perogi can go into the largest pot, which he estimates to be about 4 or 5 dozen.
They're ready when they're soft - not floating. After they are finished cooking, butter and onions are added. After that, they're packed and ready to go.
Next month, the church also will begin selling lentil soup for the winter months in addition to the perogi.
For Easter and Christmas, baklava, a sweet pastry filled with honey and walnuts, are available.
Those helping to prepare the food come from as far away as Danville, Wellsboro and Northumberland. Some who prepare the food don't belong to the church, but come for the fellowship.
"It's a nice way to come together to unify the church in one way or another," Sinatra said. "To solidify our church family."