The Pie’s the Limit

By Lisa Cavanaugh

Selling or buying a house around the holidays can present its own set of problems, especially if you are committed to hosting a family celebration.  How can you prepare and serve a grand meal if your kitchenware is in still in boxes or you’re having a showing just days later? Tina Sachs, a Coldwell Banker agent in Newton, recommends making it as easy as possible on yourself by choosing ready made food in re-heatable containers, or prepping your own favorite recipes ahead of time and freezing them. “Even if much of your cookware and china is packed away, you will still have your appliances,”  says Sachs, “so you can heat up everything you need for a holiday dinner. I’ve done it a thousand times myself, moving or not. It makes for a stress-free holiday.”

She also suggests opting for festive disposable dinnerware. “Choose some nice paper table cloths, nice quality plastic silverware. Put out pitchers of water, some fine wines. You can make it beautiful, and then when the party’s over everything can go in the trash and you will be ready for the next open house with your realtor.”

Sachs regularly advises her selling clients that in the months before a move they should pack up most of their personal items. “I tell people, keep one fry pan and one soup pot, and act as if you are on vacation. Once you eliminate a lot of the extra things your home will feel much more spacious.” Sachs suggests asking your moving company if they provide storage for a period of time for the bulk of your belongings. “Whatever you don’t need, just pack it and get it out, because houses look amazing with nothing in them.”

As someone who typically hosts large family gatherings, (“We have an open plan house that is good for parties, so I always have a ton of company for the holidays,”) Sachs relies on the convenience of precooked food. Some of her favorite pre-made items are delicious pies from Pie in the Sky, a program from the Boston based non-profit Community Servings.  For 27 years this annual Thanksgiving bake sale has recruited generous restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and hotels to make and donate thousands of pies that hundreds of volunteers then sell to family, friends, and colleagues. The proceeds from the pie sales go directly toward providing medically tailored, made-from-scratch meals for thousands of individuals and families who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves.

“I’ve been doing Pie in the Sky for fifteen years and it is such an amazing thing. We are brokers for the pies, and then everyone who bought them comes to our office to pick them up on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It’s a really fun day to be part of, so lots of our brokers like to work in the office that day.”

Coldwell Banker offers so much support to Pie in the Sky thanks to Mark Lippolt, who is Assistant Manager at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | The Hammond Group in Chestnut Hill. Lippolt previously served on the Board of Directors of Community Servings, including six years as Board Chair, and was instrumental in connecting his two organizations. “For over 20 years, agents have served as sales people for Pie in the Sky pies and the Coldwell offices have been pie distribution locations. It is a great way to use our brick and mortar business to give back to the community.”

He also points out that, as Community Servings doesn’t have a huge marketing budget of their own, utilizing a couple of hundred skilled and experienced salespeople to share their mission is a huge advantage. “Coldwell Banker agents become ambassadors for Pie in the Sky throughout our community. And the agency helps with logistics as well. It is so much easier for folks to swing by their local Coldwell Banker office on the day before Thanksgiving to pick up their pies.”

Lippolt mentions that his location is situated across the street from a Fire Station, and that on occasion when a pie isn’t picked up – because people’s travel plans get changed for example – his team makes arrangements to donate those to the firemen.” It is not uncommon for Coldwell offices to plan ahead how to share unclaimed pies with their own neighborhoods,” he says. “I think about the whole program as something like, two generations ago, you would bring a casserole over to a sick neighbor to help out. Community Servings is doing that, with Coldwell Banker’s help, on a grand scale.”

At $30 per pie, Pie in the Sky is the largest annual fundraiser for Community Servings, whose original mission was focused on supplying nutritious meals to people living with HIV/AIDS who couldn’t shop or cook for themselves, has now evolved to serving medically tailored meals for over 35 different illnesses.  “They included additional illness categories about fifteen years ago, and the only requirement to receive meals is a doctor’s certification,” says Lippolt. “The agency feeds not only the person who is sick, but also children, spouses and caregivers living in the home. It is the only agency of its kind north of New York City.”

Trying not to be too burdensome on all the generous volunteer bakers, pie choices have been limited to four popular flavors: apple, pecan, pumpkin and sweet potato. The geographical range for Pie in Sky goes as far west as Worcester, up to the New Hampshire border and down to the South shore, and Lippolt himself has been a pie seller for a dozen years. “There are friendly competitions to see who can sell the most pies each Thanksgiving”  he says, “It’s just a great way to help people who really need support all year long.”

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