DOBSON — For almost a decade, during the weeks that lead up to Easter, a familiar sight to satisfy a sweet tooth has been found for sale on counters all across the county — chocolate-covered Easter eggs, in multiple flavors, for $1 each.
Dobson Church of God has sold the chocolate-covered eggs, and this year the church expects sales to top 13,000 eggs.
According to Pastor Homer Lowdermilk, the funds raised go toward “different projects each year, with this year’s profits going to the building fund, for plumbing and remodeling the bathrooms in our church.”
“It is a real blessing for our church. It’s the only fundraiser we do and we work as hard as we can for five weeks because God has blessed us.”
The chocolate-covered eggs were made with a variety of fillings: creamy peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, cream cheese, cherry nut and coconut. Creamy peanut butter eggs were the most popular this year, with coconut in second and crunchy peanut butter not far behind, said Lowdermilk.
The members spent the end of February and the month of March making the chocolate-covered eggs and dropping them off at convenience stores, restaurants and organizations around the county. Lowdermilk said they put out a sign, a box of eggs and an envelope, and the places who sold the eggs did not receive any of the money — all of it goes straight back to the Dobson Church of God.
Last year’s totals read like a shopping list for a huge facility: 1,032 pounds of sugar, 80 pounds of cream cheese, 252 pounds of margarine, 73 pounds of coconut, 59 gallons of creamy peanut butter, 6 gallons of crunchy peanut butter, 10 boxes of wax paper and 64 boxes of edible food wax.
All of the ingredients were processed at the kitchen behind the sanctuary of the Dobson Church of God, by dedicated church members and volunteers, with the air that surrounded them heavy with the smell of chocolate and peanut butter.
For five weeks before Easter, volunteers spent three days each week, from three to more than eight hours each day, as part of an assembly line production team.
Moir Hutchens was in charge of the first stage of production Tuesday afternoon, which was melting the chocolate and edible wax on a double boiler. After it melted, he passed it to the dipping station, which was manned by Phil Neel. Neel’s wife, Sharon, was part of the wrapping station, which was the final stage in the process.
The filling for the eggs was combined and mixed by Frances and Robert Corn. On Tuesday afternoon, they were mixing peanut butter, sugar and margarine, which was passed to the filling station.
Robert Corn said playfully that his main job in the process was “keeping this little lady busy” as he gestured to his wife, to which Frances replied with a laugh, “No, I’m the one who has to keep all of these guys busy.”
Frances said she truly enjoyed the experience of making the eggs with the group of “faithful workers who all work together to get it done.”
Lowdermilk and Surry Central High School senior P.J. Gonzalez pressed the filling into molds, then transferred them to the freezer to cool and harden before they were taken to the dipping station.
Most high school students would rather spend their afternoons with friends or watching television, but Gonzalez said he enjoyed working with the group to make the eggs three days a week, after school, and the best part was “spending time with the lovely people” of the church, which he has been a member of for three years.
Homer Lowdermilk said he and his wife, Judy, began creating chocolate-covered Easter eggs in their own home around 17 years ago, with their three children, until two new church members joined their congregation.
The two members were Robert and Frances Corn, and they have made the Easter eggs for the past 41 years. When they joined the Dobson Church of God, they brought their recipes with them and offered to share them for use in the fundraising efforts.
Frances Corn said the ladies group at her former church made “about 3,000” each year and “it was nowhere near what we do now…it’s a lot of fun; the fellowship is incredible.”
Church member Phil Neel displayed a spreadsheet with statistics from egg productions since 2009. The numbers increased almost every year, with 2009’s total sales at 7,978 and last year’s sales at 11,345. This year, sales are expected to break a new record with estimates at 13,000 eggs sold.
Despite the increase in grocery prices, the members of the church said they don’t have plans to raise the price of the eggs.
Lowdermilk said that Olympia Restaurant in Mount Airy sells the most, with 1,400 sold as of yesterday. “People will call in an order and say ‘put two of those eggs in there.’”
Robert Corn delivered the eggs to Olympia and one of the employees told him they recently received a take-out order for “two hot dogs and six chocolate eggs.”
At Sue’s Restaurant in Dobson, Lowdermilk said customers “frequently go through the drive-through and just order our eggs,” but said the employees didn’t mind, “since it goes to a good cause.”
The pastor’s sister travels from the Greensboro area each year, and Lowdermilk said she picked up 420 eggs this year. In addition, a customer from Statesville recently traveled to the area to pick up a large order.
Although the eggs are “not recommended for anyone with a nut allergy,” Lowdermilk said they try hard to make sure they process the non-nut eggs first, to avoid cross-contamination.
Lowdermilk said he once asked the church members a revealing question, “If our church ever got to a place where we didn’t have to do this as a fundraiser, would they still do it?” The resounding answer was “yes.”
The eggs are widely available through Easter, but today is the last day of production, according to Lowdermilk. Anyone interested in picking up a last-minute order may call 374-3248.
Eggs may be purchased for $1 each at several area businesses, including Olympia Restaurant, 13 Bones, Surry Diner, Sue’s Restaurant, The Lantern, Red Stripe at Fairview, Martin’s off of N.C. 268, the store and diner at the Level Cross crossroads, along with several other locations, but, according to Lowdermilk, “once they are gone, they are gone until next year.”
Reach Jessica Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1933.