The Rescue Mission opens its holiday volunteer opportunities with a Nov. 9 pie bake. | Photo by Teresa Stanton, Creative Commons license

Annual Thanksgiving Pie Sale Moves Online

Fundraiser is largest held to support city’s high school lacrosse program

By Dominick Pfisterer

For almost 20 years, the Syracuse City School District has held an annual Thanksgiving pie sale to raise funds for the boys lacrosse programs. Earnings cover the cost for equipment, jerseys, sticks and out-of-season leagues and tournaments that could not be funded otherwise.

The SCSD lacrosse team is composed of all the public high schools: Corcoran, Henninger, Institute of Technology, Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler and Nottingham.

The event is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the program, according to Matt Dowd, Corcoran High School varsity lacrosse coach, who has been with the program since 2007. It opens the doors to different opportunities for the kids to play lacrosse in the offseason, including the Cornfield Classic — a fall lacrosse tournament that serves as a major recruiting platform, hosting over 100 college coaches, according to Dowd.

“Last year, the fundraiser paid for us to use Burnett Park to play indoor box lacrosse throughout the winter,” Dowd said. “Even though it was snowing and cold, there was still an opportunity to play.”

The event also funds a summer league for the program. “Lacrosse can be kind of an expensive sport,” Dowd explained. “We try to make it so that those financial hurdles are not a hurdle to the kids.”

With the cancelation of spring sports last year and the postponement of select fall sports this year, there has been an everchanging experience that the past year has brought on athletes and coaches alike. The fundraiser still provides a “standard team procedure,” according to Corcoran High School Athletic Director Joe Polumbo.

“We want to have the kids experience some normalcy,” Polumbo said. “Things they normally associate with being on the lacrosse team.”

Traditionally, the sales take place on a door-to-door basis. However, this year due to global pandemic, the sales have gone online in 2020 fashion.

Instead of players going door-to-door with a flyer for potential patrons to fill out, all contributions can be done digitally this year, thanks to Walt Eccles, the league facilitator. Eccles designed the SCSD website where those interested can register to play lacrosse, contact coaches and even donate.

There is a lot of unknowns of how things will progress past the COVID-era. Education, business and many other industries may all look different for years to come.

“I’m curious to see,” said Eccles on whether the pie sale will continue to be an all-online format going forward. “There is a convenience about picking a pie online and having it show up on Thanksgiving.”

One hundred percent of proceeds go directly into the lacrosse programs.

Those looking to donate can simply go onto the SCSD website and select their pie choice as well as method of delivery from pick up to home drop-off. The pies are delivered to Corcoran High School and then distributed from there.

“We want our kids to have the chance to play year-round like our neighboring school districts do,” Dowd said. “That is how you become a good player, not just by playing during the season but the offseason as well. We want to make sure that opportunity is there for all our kids.”

Dominick Pfisterer is a Newhouse School graduate student

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