Out of her love for camp, a Camp Ondessonk enthusiast has found a new and creative way to raise money for a place she holds dear.
Natalie Schweiger, a former camper and graduate of Gibault Catholic High School, started a program last winter called Cookies For Campers.
Combining her love for camp and baking, Schweiger bakes seasonal goodies and sells them to raise money for the Campership Fund, which helps kids who cannot afford to go to camp.
This winter, she is selling mini apple pies, Oreo truffles, iced sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookie dough filled cupcakes and gingerbread drop cookies, which are her own original recipe.
Schweiger currently attends SWIC and is studying culinary arts, so this idea falls in perfectly with both her studies and passions.
“I was absolutely shocked last year at the number of people that wanted to donate,” she said. “My original goal was to have 30 orders, but I ended up having over a hundred orders.”
Around this time last year, Schweiger ended up making more than 900 sugar cookies, 400 chocolate chip cookies and dozens of Oreo truffles.
“I did it all in my house in our oven using our Kitchen Aid mixer, just my mom and I,” she said.Pictured are some of Schweiger’s baked goods before she delivered them last winter. (submitted photo)
This year, since she is attending SWIC, the school is allowing her to use their facilities, which includes four large, industrial ovens.
“It’ll be so much better than staying up for 48 hours icing sugar cookies,” she said with a laugh.
Schweiger said the most rewarding part of her experience last year was delivering the cookies to everyone who had ordered them.
“So many people told me to keep the change,” she said. “It just blew my mind.”
Last year, she raised $1,500; $1,200 of which went to the Campership Fund.
The remaining money was used to offset the cost of baking materials such as Oreos.
Her goal this year is to double the amount raised and contribute $3,000 to the Campership Fund.
“Almost all of the people who ordered last year are ordering again this year,” she said. “I’ve expanded my marketing, too, which helps.”
Since Schweiger is from New Athens, she presented the money to a camp representative when he visited St. Agatha’s Church to talk to students about camp.
In the future, Schweiger hopes to expand Cookies For Campers and raise money all over Illinois.
“This could be absolutely huge,” she said. “I can’t believe it came from just my little idea.”
Schweiger is taking orders via text, email or her Facebook page, “Cookies For Campers.” She can be reached at 618-975-3636 and will be personally delivering orders on Dec. 21 and 22.
“Camp Ondessonk has been a part of my life for nine years now, and I would like every child who wants to, to have the chance to go to camp,” she said.