"Let's go! We have a lot of deliveries to make!" a member of the Northfield Mothers League yelled to her children waiting upstairs.
The member was one of almost 35 women whose cars filled the cul-de-sac of Ridgewood Court in Northfield that night. The dedicated group joined in packaging cookies and soups for their annual "Thinking of You" event.
In less than an hour's time, the homemade goodies were ready, separated into boxes with the message attached: "NML Is Thinking of You This Holiday Season." For the fifth year, the mothers used member Maggi Siegel's home, which lent itself well to the assembly-line method of packaging.
Deliveries would be made that night and the following morning to anyone in the neighborhood simply in need of the special treat.
The list of addresses included people from across the spectrum, from those living on their own, to elderly couples and sickly people to a family who just moved to town, league secretary, Ann Bonchi explained.
"It's not that they're needy. It's just (us) saying, 'We are thinking of you,' here's a plate of cookies. It's Thanksgiving," she said.
The tradition began in the early 1990s, estimates Teri MaGrann-Reilly, a former league mother turned "social member" - a term coined for those retired members who still lend their services.
MaGrann-Reilly recalled having a neighbor who was going through tough times and knew that there must be a handful of people in the same situation. Once a list was compiled and deliveries were made, the tradition took.
"It's really amazing to me that they continue this," she said, also noting how the league sometimes fails to keep up with projects as years pass.
Members also noted that as the tradition continued, some people on the list came to look forward to the delivery each year. Some even enjoyed the company of the mother, more than the treat itself.
"Once I was in the door, I was captive. She talked to me for (almost) 45 minutes," MaGrann-Reilly said of one past delivery. "Next year, I knocked and she said, 'You're late. I've been waiting for you.' It's emotional, and you become very attached to the people you deliver to."
As committee member Trish Juckett separated soups and cookie platters, she explained the significance of giving during this time of year.
"It's a nice time of year to be thankful for everything you have," she said. "It's nice to reach out to people this time of year."
As a deliverer, she has seen firsthand the small difference a package of chocolate chip cookies and chicken noodle soup makes.
"The first year I brought it to (my neighbor), she cried. She was very emotional and touched," she said.
By the end of the evening the following day, the league had delivered to 80 addresses, and while this time marks the beginning of a typically chaotic holiday season, the mothers could not be happier to lend their time.
"This is one that we don't fundraise for, so it's truly joyous. It's just us giving … it's just a 'thinking of you.' It's one of the best ones," she said of their charitable efforts.
"It's the smiles on their faces," member Carolyn Peterson agreed. "It's the greatest thing."
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