The bake sale may have moved, but Mario Facci knew just where to find it.
The 57-year-old Charlton resident didn’t hesitate to continue a yearly tradition Saturday of patronizing St. Anthony’s Church’s annual Palm Sunday bake sale, which was moved to the gym of the St. John the Evangelist Parish Center on Union Street after a fire caused serious damage to St. Anthony’s Church last month.
“Not at all,” said Facci, who drove in from southern Saratoga County for the sale, “because they’ve got the best baked goods around, and it reminds me of Easter.”
Facci walked out of the gym with a loaf of rainbow-sprinkle-frosted Easter bread, two packages of Easter cookies, homemade Italian bread, an apple pie and a big grin.
St. Anthony’s Church’s Palm Sunday bake sale
WHERE: St. John the Evangelist Parish Center gym, 806 Union St., Schenectady
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
ON SALE: A variety of baked goods including Easter bread, Italian bread and Italian pastries
Facci, who grew up down the road from St. Anthony’s and was baptized there, has come home for the sale every year of his adult life.
His favorite baked good, he said, is “Easter bread, of course.”
“You’ve never had it? Buy one, bring it home— they’re delicious,” he said.
The sale saw a steady stream of customers throughout the day, including many new faces, said Annie Moore, who chaired the event for the 24th straight year. The fundraiser nets about $12,000 for the church every year.
“It’s pretty busy today,” Moore said at 1:30 p.m., less than four hours into the sale that continues today. “We’ve run out of a lot of things already.”
The sale features hundreds of Italian pastries and four varieties of Easter bread —“probably hundreds of each kind,” she said — at least 50 loaves of freshly baked Italian bread and 13 24-slice pizzas.
Volunteer Louise DiDonna, one of about eight people who helped Sister Maria Rosa with the baking, said she worked “twice a week for I don’t know how many weeks” and every day the last two weeks to prepare for the sale.
Fortunately, Moore said, the church’s kitchen was spared by the blaze that caused extensive damage to the church on March 7, and could be used for the sale. No one was injured in the fire that started in the church’s furnace and caused the heaviest damage to the basement ceiling and the wooden floors of the sanctuary directly above the furnace room.
The biggest challenge Saturday was transporting the baked goods from the church kitchen at 331 Seward Place to the gym at 806 Union St., Moore said.
St. John’s, which has hosted Sunday Mass for St. Anthony’s parishioners ever since the fire, continued to be a good neighbor for the sale. The church’s restoration is ongoing, and Easter Mass will take place at St. John the Evangelist.
“They’ve been very accomodating and welcoming to us,” Moore said.
The customers responded generously, too, she said.
“We’ve noticed that there are some people that are actually very generous,” she said. “Their total bill will come to $25 and they actually give a $50 donation, so there’s a lot of generous people.”
Moore said she never doubted that the sale would go on this year.
“We’ve all been doing this together for years,” Moore said. “There’s a lot of determination, a lot of faith there. We’re not ones to let go of our tradition.”