By TAYLOR HARTZ
The American Legion was filled with pink and red décor this Saturday afternoon, and a whole lot of chocolate.
The American Legion Auxiliary hosted its 13th annual Chocolate Fest just in time for Valentine’s Day, offering candy, baked goods, and dozens of gift baskets. Four tables were filled with red velvet cheesecakes, peanut butter pops, and chocolate covered graham crackers—all made by volunteer bakers.
Helen Locks, a member of the legion auxiliary, spent days baking four small cakes, four large cakes, dozens of heart shaped cupcakes, and 99 lollipops.
“All this money is going to the troops,” said Locks. “That’s why I do it.”
Rachel Wache, who founded the festival 13 years ago, said it is entirely volunteer-based, costs nothing to host, and brings in funds for veterans, the homeless, and children, as well as various educational programs.
“It’s been a very successful fundraiser. It’s self sustaining,” said Wache, who said every dollar collected is donated back to the community.
“It’s all volunteered by our members—every bit of it,” said Cindy Kopcza, who now runs the festival.
After 13-years, the Chocolate Fest is still thriving, since “all the tables are filled with baked goods,” said Kopcza.
Dozens of baskets were raffled off. A few were themed, including “A Bundle of Joy” and “Relaxing Night In.” Others were filled with supplies for baking, car care, and pets.
As attendees snacked on chocolate and shopped through raffle baskets, the legion opened its café to serve hot dogs, chili, chowder, and soup, while volunteers sold pre-made Valentine’s Day gift baskets filled with toys and chocolates for children.