Giving Back

December 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Barbara Baker Talks Toys for Tots and

the Feast of the Seven Fishes

Peters resident and real-estate agent shares her holiday traditions and annual charity work.


During the height of the Christmas season, unique traditions liven households while charitable endeavors grace each community, indeed creating a vibrant time of the year.

Although this holiday may take a bow to consumerism and over-indulgence, it also emphasizes togetherness and goodwill.

Peters resident and real-estate agent, Barbara Baker, embraces this season with great generosity.

In her second year hosting a Toys for Tots open-house charity event, Baker invited her neighbors and past real-estate clients to partake in the warm buzz created by the kind-hearted project.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Baker. “Neighbors have a chance to spend time together and you can come whenever you want and leave whenever you want.”

Funded by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, the Toys for Tots foundation reveals Christmas’s themes of hope and prosperity through holding annual nationwide fundraisers that collect toys for less-fortunate youth.

“So many of us have so much, while so many have so little,” said Baker. “It’s for such a great cause.”

Baker also volunteers at an Assisted Living facility, where she spends much of her time assisting residents.

A major reason for Baker’s recent involvement at the facility is due to her 87-year-old mother,¬†Francis Zuchowski, who is now a resident recovering from a recent stroke. While her mother’s condition has been difficult to bear, Baker’s resilient optimism allows her to accept such trials.

“I remember how she used to be so vibrant around this time of year,” said Baker. “It’s been hard not having her around this year, but that’s a part of life.”

Although her mother may not be physically present this year, Baker will have her family over this Christmas Eve. As one of five children, Baker has volunteered her house as the central meeting place for the family every year.

As Roman Catholics with Italian and Polish roots, Baker’s family celebrates the Feast of the Seven Fishes every Christmas Eve, a Roman Catholic tradition that practices abstinence from consuming meat or milk products in reverence of the birth of Jesus. This feast usually includes shrimp, salmon, cod and other types of savory fish that crowd the dinner table .

Although the seafood smorgasbord varies from year to year, Baker always reserves a spot at the dinner table for pierogies.

Unlike typical store-bought pierogies, these are handmade by the parishioners of St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Richeyville, Pa.

“They’re awesome,” said Baker. “The best I’ve ever had.”

For Baker, the most valued aspect of the Christmas season lies in the time spent with good company.

“To me, it’s about friends and family,” said Baker. “Everyone seems to make more of an effort to be together around this time of the year.”

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