Archive for Monday, December 24, 2012

Family’s homemade cookies thank those who spend holiday on the job

December 24, 2012


While most of us enjoy Christmas Day and the evening before making merry with family or friends, there are a number of community members at work in emergency services, ready to take care of the rest of us when something goes wrong.

Thanks to one Lawrence family, not all of them have to miss out on the traditional office cookie tray.

Winona Marks, left, and Mark and Shanon Marks pack up dozens of cookies on Christmas Eve. For at least 15 years, the family has made and delivered cookie trays to residents in the Lawrence community who work the night shift in various emergency roles, such as firefighters, nurses and police officers.

Winona Marks, left, and Mark and Shanon Marks pack up dozens of cookies on Christmas Eve. For at least 15 years, the family has made and delivered cookie trays to residents in the Lawrence community who work the night shift in various emergency roles, such as firefighters, nurses and police officers.

For at least 15 years, Mark and Shanon Marks and their family have baked hundreds of cookies and delivered them to the hospital, police station, fire stations and a call center around the time the overnight shift begins on Christmas Eve.

If you think that sounds like a lot of cookies, you’d be correct. They baked and expected to deliver about 150 dozen Monday night, nearing double the number they did the first few years, Shanon said.

“We know that it’s kind of hard to work on a holiday and not be with your family,” she said. “The homemade cookies can make it feel more like a home.”

Mark added, “It’s the day shift that gets all the good stuff. It’s the people that are there at night that aren’t getting that.”

The Markses’ daughters, now grown (and one an emergency room nurse), have helped bake and deliver, and Mark’s mother, Winona Marks of Lawrence, remains a critical cook in the effort.

Winona loves to bake cookies — oatmeal crispies and sandies are among her specialties — and said the Christmas Eve effort is a perfect outlet for sharing them.

“The commercial cookies are very, very good,” she said. “But there’s just something about the love and the time that you spend — it’s a lot different than just dashing down to the store and buying a dozen of some cookies.”

With some family members working individually and some as a group, the Markses tackle “marathon baking days” in the week leading up to Christmas, Shanon said. Then they box cookies in napkin-lined plastic “clamshells” — a much sturdier, stackable option than the plastic-wrapped plates they began with years ago — and load the packages up for delivery.

Shanon normally drives, and Mark takes cookies inside the destinations, usually stopping to chat only when invited.

Mark said they try not to make a big production of their deliveries, opting more for a secret-Santa approach.

“It’s about the sentiment, not the recognition,” he said.

The Markses know what it’s like to be the people working Christmas. Mark, a veterinarian, used to give his employees at Marks Vet Hospital Christmas Eve and morning off.

It was a family affair for the Markses and their daughters to tend to all the boarded pets on the holiday. He and Shanon, who also works at the vet hospital, were on call for pet emergencies, too, which aren’t uncommon on Christmas.

Since merging his practice, now Wakarusa Vet Hospital, in 2002, Mark doesn’t do that anymore.

But in 2003, Mark found himself on a job much farther away from his family than the veterinary hospital — Kuwait.

That year, while Mark served as a military veterinarian during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the rest of the family carried on the tradition for him, baking and delivering all the cookies themselves. They sent him care packages, though, which he was able to share with others serving in Kuwait.

Mark said the employees at the call center that handled his emergency vet calls — plus calls for other businesses in the community — inspired him to start the Lawrence cookie project years ago. There were call center employees he spoke to frequently but never met in person.

To those call center employees, police dispatchers, nurses, firefighters and others, he explains the cookies this way: “We knew you would be here tonight, we knew you’d be here serving our community, and we wanted to do a little something to show we appreciate you.”


Mary Ellen Hall 5 years, 5 months ago

Dr. Marks was the first veterinarian I used in Lawrence (1991) and we continue to use Wakarusa Veterinary Hospital. This story makes me happy as it's been my experience that he and his entire staff are all very kind and caring and this exemplifies that. Thank you, Mark and Shanon!!

rlmtyco 5 years, 5 months ago

kudos to this family, that is very nice of them to do this. Makes me want to do something similiar.

juniet 5 years, 5 months ago

It is so nice to read "positive news" - people who try to make a difference in the world -by caring for another. If we could all just spread alittle "sunshine" into the lives of others-what a better world we could make. Merry Christmas- May you be Blessed by your kindness in many ways.

Loretta James 5 years, 5 months ago

We use to take meat and cheese and goodies trays to ER and the ambulance station that served our home my brother was a heart patient but since his death i couldnt afford it on my income but i do thank all the medical personnel and police that work around the clock to keep us safe thank you all happy holidays to everyone

cathcarebid 5 years, 5 months ago

I am a night shift RN at LMH. I was one of the lucky recipients that received a batch of cookies. I was very thankful that they would take time out of their evening to hand deliver these treats. It meant so much!

mac 5 years, 5 months ago

I agree with the appreciation of the good news... Ho! Ho! Ho!

bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

hey LJW, thanks for this, wonderful!

and, I'd love to read about the work of a "military veterinarian" in Kuwait from those times. that'd be a very fine read indeed.

friendlyjhawk 5 years, 5 months ago

Nice story about caring people. All is calm, all is bright. Thank you.

waitjustaminute 5 years, 5 months ago

We've known the Marks since the mid 80's - couldn't meet nicer, more friendly people anywhere. Thanks to them and others who honor the work of those who make it easier to go to sleep at night - knowing Lawrence and Douglas County is well protected. - And their vet business is second to none.

Mark Lee 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Dr. Marks. Lawrence needs more vets like you.

omgsmileyface 5 years, 5 months ago

The homemade cookies are the best and the fact that they deliver them is awesome.... Your effort is appreciated at our call center

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