Residents of Burke and surrounding counties can help fund several charitable organizations just by purchasing baked goods.

Open Hearts Bakery is open Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning April 1 through the end of October in St. Matthews United Methodist Church at 201 Shady Rest Road in Morganton.

“We bake for some local businesses all year round,” said Madelyn Russ, the bakery coordinator. “We also have a big Thanksgiving and Christmas bake. We take orders and will be open at our church Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving and Dec. 20 for Christmas.”

This August marks the organization’s 10th anniversary after opening in 2009 to raise funds for various mission projects by selling baked goods.

“We have two missions in the bakery,” Russ said. “One, to hire people economically or employment challenged. So salaries are a major expense. Two, we support local organizations such as Burke United Christian Ministries and Options of Burke County. We also fund the backpack ministry and the Diaper Supply Closet at St. Matthews UMC, along with other outreach ministries. We also donate bread to two food pantries.”

Currently, the bakery supports one part-time manager and five part-time employees.

“We have about 25 volunteers, including those that bake, sell, wrap, label, wash dishes, deliver to local businesses, shop and order, plus our two treasurers,” Russ said. “Two of our paid employees from last year have other jobs now, but are volunteering in the bakery this year.”

Some of the baked goods Open Hearts Bakery is known for include apple pie, fruit pie, blackberry wine cake and muffins, banana and blueberry muffins, as well as eight different flavors of sourdough bread.

The baked goods are available for purchase at several farmer’s markets.

On Saturdays they can be purchased at the Foothills Farmers Market in Shelby and at the Conover Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon. They also can be purchased on the first Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to noon at The Lord’s Acre at 26 Joe Jenkins Road in Fairview.

On Wednesdays they can be purchased at the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the Morganton Mini Market from noon to 4 p.m.

“Selling at the markets is our main source of income,” Russ said. “All the sellers at the markets are volunteers. We encourage our employees to go with us when possible. Being at the markets and talking with customers allows us to interact with people that purchase our products. It is such a joy to see all the hard work come together and listen to all the positive and complementary comments from customers.”

Open Hearts Bakery’s goods also are available at Morganton General Store, Grind Café, Green Wave Restaurant in Glen Alpine and J & M Produce in Blowing Rock.

In addition to purchasing the baked goods, Russ explained another way that residents can help.

“We always need more volunteers,” Russ said. “The more volunteers we have, the more profit to put back into our community.”

For more information , call 828-437-5420, or email bakery@stmatthewsmorganton.org, or visit www.stmatthewsmorganton.org/OpenHeartsBakery.

Barbara Jolly-Deakle is a News Herald correspondent and a member of the Morganton Writers’ Group. She can be reached at BabbyWrites@CompasCable.net.

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