LOFT students crank out pies for annual fund-raiser

LOFT student Nathaniel Perry mixes up apple pie filling with some help from his mother, Andrea Perry. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
LOFT student Nathaniel Perry mixes up apple pie filling with some help from his mother, Andrea Perry. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.

When is a pie more than just a pie?

When it’s been handmade with love by the students in the Learning Opportunities for Tomorrow (LOFT) program.

On Friday and Monday, LOFT students spent hours preparing 250 apple pies at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford Township as part of their annual fund-raiser.

“This is a big job for them. This is a big day,” said teacher Jeanne DiCicco, founder of LOFT, on Friday.

Based at Oxford High School, LOFT is an adult transition program for 18-to-26-year-old individuals with developmental disabilities or cognitive impairments. LOFT teaches a variety of useful skills that help enable students to lead productive, fulfilling and independent lives.

LOFT students participate in every aspect of the pie fund-raiser, which began 10 years ago.

They get the ball rolling by taking advance orders from high school staff and parents, family, friends and community members. The pies are sold for $14 each or two for $26.

Each pie is crafted using fresh apples – no store-bought produce or canned fruit filling in these desserts.

On Oct. 26, the students picked 10 bushels of Granny Smith apples at Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada. All of the fruit was generously donated by Blake’s, according to DiCicco.

LOFT students learned how to shop online by ordering all of the necessary ingredients and kitchen items, such as measuring cups, from the Sam’s Club and Amazon websites.

Once they had everything they needed, the students headed to the church where they measured and mixed ingredients, then added a heaping helping of fresh filling to each pie crust. The uncooked pies were packaged and frozen, so customers can have a fresh-baked treat whenever they want.

“You can cook it any time from now until next Thanksgiving,” DiCicco said.

The pie fund-raiser helps pay for a number of extra activities for LOFT students such as attending plays at Meadow Brook Theatre and taking out-of-town trips to places like Chicago.

Such experiences are fun for LOFT students and they help DiCicco assess their progress by giving her opportunities to observe them putting skills learned in the classroom to use in the real world.

Plus, the pie-making experience itself teaches students a lot.

“For every student, it’s something different,” DiCicco explained. “For some, it’s the experience of doing something from start to finish. For some, it’s an entrepreneurial experience. They realize they could have their own business. This is something they could do. For all of them, it enhances their daily living skills – cooking, cleaning, organization, grocery shopping, making a list.”

To help with this year’s pie-making, LOFT students were joined by six Oakland University students, who participated as part of a community project for a leadership class.

For more photos from the fund-raiser, check out a copy of this week’s Oxford Leader for just $1.