The annual date means that often the day is less than pleasant, but
that doesn't seem to deter the community from coming every year.
This year was no exception with less than palatable weather. A bit
of snow had fallen overnight, and with a blustery wind, streets were
slick. The morning sun hadn't had enough time to work its magic on
warming things enough to thaw.
Still, the parking lot at Zion
Lutheran School began to fill at 7 a.m. Soon after, the open field
to the west of the lot began filling with cars and trucks as
hundreds of vehicles filled with family and friends braved the
elements to attend the school's annual pancake and sausage
And when it was all over, 1,365 meals had been served and 301
items had been auctioned off, to say nothing of the tables full of
baked goods sold to community members as they made their way out the
Karen Burgrabe read off the list of supplies used in this huge
event, and it sounds like something that could be turned into
another rendition of the "Twelve Days of Christmas."
When the day was over, 60 boxes of commercial pancake mix had
been mixed, 3,850 pounds of sausage had been prepared, 132 bottles
of syrup had been poured, two cases of butter had been spread, 30
gallons of orange drink had been drunk, and so much coffee was made
and consumed that no one knew for sure.
Yes, that is a real pancake and sausage breakfast.
On Monday, as parents came to pick up their children, there was a
steady file of people coming into the office to pick up and pay for
the items they had bid on and won at the silent auction. All seemed
jovial, and on more than one occasion someone said they were there
to "pay" for the items they had won. Of course they didn't win
anything except the right to pay for an item. But their generosity
meant that the school had won, and that is what this annual event is
In all $25,000 was raised during the day. No small amount by any
school's measure but most assuredly an important total to a small
private school (132 students) that has to rely on tuition and the
generosity of the congregations at Zion and Faith Lutheran to keep
the school going.
Shirley Aukamp and Donna Sauer, assistant principal, remembered
the first breakfast the school put on back in 1977. At the time the
school was still a part of the downtown church and they had two
grills outside where the pork and batter were cooked up. Aukamp
remembers, "The day wasn't pleasant but it was agreeable." Both
Aukamp and Sauer believe that 300 meals were served the first year,
and both admitted that neither had any idea as to how large the
annual breakfast would grow over the years.
Aukamp said that the first breakfast meats were supplied by three
hogs. Now 20 to 30 hogs get turned into sausage to fill the requests
of community patrons.
In the early days there was no silent auction. That portion of
the day has grown into a significant part of the fundraising. Karen
Burgrabe said that in 2007 the business community and individuals
donated 120 items for auction. This year there were 301: another
testimony to the generosity of our local businesses.
[to top of second column]
The number of meals served now is something that Steve Schumacher,
school principal, can only smile at and be amazed by. The 1,365
total for meals served is equivalent to almost 10 percent of the
city's population. Couple that with how many more people come out
just to bid on an item or pick up baked goods, and the morning is
obviously a signature event in the community.
But there is more than just the bounty of good food being shared
at Zion Lutheran School. You can see it in the faces; you can hear
it in the rush of noise as the community comes together in a joy of
fellowship and friendship in the waning days of another winter. For
just that day, the gymnasium is a special place as it carries table
after table of smiles and laughter throughout the morning. It is
almost as if the busiest community in central Illinois is shaking
off the cobwebs of winter and preparing for another year of activity
to help each other as best we can.
During the breakfast, there was help everywhere, keeping things
running as smoothly as possible for such large numbers. Crews keep
sausage coming while others man two pancake-making machines. Some
keep filling carryout orders while others serve the meal. And still
others walk the gymnasium, making sure anyone who needs an extra
sausage or pancake or drink gets it easily and readily. The ages of
those helping ranged from 80-something to 8 or perhaps younger.
Karen Burgrabe said the youngsters who were working hard along with
the adults were from Girl Scout Pack 6419 and the student council.
Jennifer Heidbreder counted up 100 volunteers who helped kept
everything running. Schumacher marveled at the fact there are so
many volunteers whose children have long left the school but still
pitch in to make the day a huge success. To those volunteers, it
will always be their school, and they come willing to work, with a
smile on their faces every year.
And so another hugely successful pancake and sausage breakfast is
in the books at Zion Lutheran School. Thanks to staff, volunteers,
businesses and all those who come to contribute in a small way to
keep one of our schools on steady ground in these trying times. We
are delighted to name all those involved as our Personalities of the
We doubt you could have done it any "batter."