Pancake makers serve higher power

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

The flapjacks may be tasty, and the camaraderie may be nice, but for Paul Fairchild, the annual First United Methodist Pancake Breakfast holds a greater reward.

The money from the event, as it has been in previous years, is donated to local needy families at Christmas time, supplying 20 $100 Wal-Mart gift cards just last year.

As Fairchild takes a break on Friday, between the morning and afternoon rush, he’s asked about the people the event has helped, he slides a photocopied “Thank You” note across the floral-print table cloth.

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It’s a simple note, which reads on the front: “If it weren’t for great people like you, there wouldn’t be grateful people like me!”

People expressing their thanks is not uncommon, Fairchild said, but this simple note was something special. It comes from a mother named Melissa who used the money for Christmas gifts, primarily two tokens of faith.

“Through the years, we’ve gotten letters like this, but this one impress us,” Fairchild said. “That’s particularly because of the first thing she did with it … she bought two crosses.”

The church has had plenty of time to garner praise like Melissa’s; this is the 14th year for the pancake breakfast. Two groups within the church, the Methodist Men and the Methodist Women, put on the breakfast every year.

Volunteer Carl White manned the shamrock-adorned cash register at the front. White said there had been a steady stream of people paying the four dollars to eat, drawn in not only be the chance to help, but by a choice spread of food.

“Oh yeah, it’s great,” White said. “The sausage is great with the pancakes. We’ve got that link sausage, juice or coffee, whatever you want to drink.”

Fairchild is drawn time and again to the breakfast by the stories from those the group has helped, which he continues to collect over the years.

The best, he said, was from one visit to a woman for whom the gift card could not have come at a better time.

“She stood there and looked at me and said ‘This is like an answer to a prayer, my car was stolen last night and I didn’t know what I was going to do,’” Fairchild said.

The gift cards are also paid for by the annual spaghetti dinner, which, Fairchild said, are admittedly better known. But it’s hard to put one event over another when they both create cards like this:

“To the members of the First United Methodist Church: My family was chosen to receive the Wal-Mart gift card. I was able to give my children a Christmas because of your kind gift. One of the things I bought for my girls were two cross necklaces, so they will always remember the greatest gift of all … Jesus Christ.

Thanks so much, Melissa.”