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Paczki Day 2013: Time to Indulge in Sugary Treats

An estimated 250 volunteers pitch in this week to help with the traditional undertaking at Good Samaritan Parish.

Jan Pisarski and Tom Baldwin drove four hours from Detroit to volunteer with the annual paczki production at Good Samaritan Parish in Ambridge.

The two Ford Motor Co. co-workers were among the 250 volunteers who pitched in over the course of the week to prepare paczki for Fat Tuesday, also known as Paczki Day.

Paczki, pronounced punch-key, are Polish doughnuts that were traditionally made as a way for observant Catholics to clear the butter, sugar, eggs and liquor from their cupboards before Ash Wednesday to prepare for the Lenten fast.

Brother Ambrose, who organized the project, said Monday's efforts started at 7:30 a.m. and would last until about midnight. The goal was to make 1,000 dozen for today’s sale. .

Pisarski said Monday that he grew up in the nearby parish, where his parents were members, and could recall eating paczki as a youth. Unable to find anything similar in Detroit, a city known for celebrating the day with jelly-filled varieties, Pisarski decided to go to Good Samaritan.

“These are real paczki, not the Detroit paczki,” said Pisarski, a purchasing manager at Ford Motor Co., as he helped coat them in sugar.

Last year, he and Baldwin, an environmental engineer, traveled to get their hands on the treats. Baldwin said he fell in love with them and ended up eating a dozen all by himself.

“They were delicious,” Baldwin said.

This time around, the men took them home fresh from the fryer, their reward for volunteering. Pisarski, who left with nine dozen, planned to share them with co-workers and business associates.

Paczki Day runs from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Good Samaritan Parish, Eighth and Melrose Avenue in Ambridge. Donation is $4.50 for a half-dozen or $8 for a dozen.

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