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Ukrainian Homestead sells pierogies to benefit family affected by fire

When disaster strikes a neighbor, Lehighton residents can rest assured that the Ukrainian Homestead CEC of ODWU (Organization for the Rebirth of Ukraine) will be there to lend a helping hand.

On Saturday, members of the Homestead came together to raise funds for the Gower family, who tragically lost their daughter, Vahnne, in a house fire this past July.

The Homestead members knew that they wanted to do something, anything, to help the family from right down the road in their time of need. The decision to hold a pierogi sale, the brain child of Eugenia Podolak, only seemed natural.

“When the Gower family’s house burned down, everybody was doing a fundraiser, so we decided, ‘What if we do a pierogi sale as a fundraiser?’ It’s a tragedy, losing a child, and since they live maybe about a mile and a half away, and since we’re all in one community, it’s a form of outreach,” Ukrainian Homestead administrator Ulana Prociuk said.

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The team came together at the Homestead on Saturday morning to prepare the popular potato pockets, with labor divided between dough preparation, filling and cooking.

The dough, Prociuk said, is usually prepared and chilled early in the morning or the night before. As for the filling, it takes a particular combination of Idaho potatoes, sharp cheese, fried onions, butter and a bit of seasoning to get it just right. After mashing it all together, the mixture is shaped into little orbs.

Once the separate elements are prepared, the dough is fed through an extruder, rolled out on a flour-dusted surface, and cut into sections with soup cans.

Then, it’s off to tables, where the ladies of the Homestead carefully fold the dough around little potato balls and pinch them closed.

Next up, trays of pierogi are taken to the kitchen, where Johnny Dawyd gives them a quick boil. After refrigeration, the “varenyky” — the name usually associated with the cooked dish, as the term “varyty” means “to cook” — they’re packaged by the dozen, ready to be enjoyed.

And when it comes to these pierogi, or varenyky, they not only fill your belly, but warm your soul, knowing that the proceeds of the sale went to help a local family.

“They are neighbors here, and it was only proper to support the neighbors,” Podolak said. “Pierogies are something different, different than the basket sales. So, the people that buy the pierogies, they serve two purposes — they support the needy family, and they will have food, and they will remember that.”

Members of the Ukrainian Homestead of CEC ODWU in Lehighton came together to make fresh pierogies for a sale to benefit the Gower family on Saturday. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
Ukrainian Homestead administrator Ulana Prociuk, along with members Stepan Kira and Bohdan Muchyk, prepare the dough for the pierogies.
Eugenia Podolak and Mary Smida prepare the potato filling for the pierogies.
Johnny Dawyd pulls some freshly cooked pierogies from the pots.
The Ukrainian Homestead members sold the pierogies by the dozen to help support their neighbors, the Gowers, who tragically lost their daughter and home in a fire over the summer.