Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

Recently, chocolate lovers gathered at the Courtyard by Marriott in Altoona to benefit Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger.
Local dessert-makers competed for top honors at this year\’s Chocolate Lovers Festival, including some area students.
Both Mrs. Mary Kay O’Connor and Mrs. Gail Reitz’s home economics classes at Bellwood-Antis High School gave students the opportunity to produce their own chocolate creations.
O’Connor said she gave her students the option of participating in the festival for bonus points. Although the project was not graded, students could earn extra points on the next test if they placed in their category at the festival.
Students picked their own recipes, made the dessert and then decorated it. They also put together jars for a raffle that was held to raise money at the festival. The jars included mixes such as oatmeal cookie mix and oatmeal M&M mix.
O’Connor said some of the students didn’t want to work on the project in class, but created something at home for the chocolate festival.
Pam Weyant said she wanted to create something for the festival because she has fun cooking and likes home economics and the festival was another excuse to try something new.
“And, I love chocolate,” she added.
Besides getting to work with chocolate, Josh Kleinfelter said, “It just feels good to help raise money for the kids that need it”
“And, it’s a great experience to get to try new things,” added Jessica Shinn.
In Mrs. Reitz’s class, 15 students participated, making desserts ranging from cheesecake to double chocolate bunt cake to S’mores cookies.
Reitz said her students chose their own recipes and focused on selecting flavors that combine well. They also worked on the presentation of the desserts.
“This year the students have been very enthusiastic,” said Reitz.
Chocolate lovers paid $10 to sample desserts from 2 to 4 p.m. last Sunday. Besides the chocolate smorgasbord, featuring all-you-can-eat desserts and goodies, this year\’s event also featured live entertainment and a silent auction. Local \”celebrity\” judges were on hand to select the student, amateur and professional winners in a variety of chocolate categories.
Bellwood-Antis students produced several winning chocolate concoctions. Ian Varner and Jake Manning took home first place pie honors and Jenna Snyder, Porsha Riley and Becca Colyer took home first place for their cookies. A first place cake was baked by Jannell Wilt and Rachel Albright and in the ‘other’ category, Tiffany Lantz and Joshua Davinsizer grabbed first place for their cheesecake.
Leah Snyder, Megan Hinterberger and Kristyn Ginter were awarded second place for their cheesecake and Lindsey Andrekavich and Miranda Swope took home second place for their cake.
Third place winners included Sarah Hornberger in the cake category, Amanda Lyons, Lauren Lender and Nicole O\’Shea in the candy category and Ryan Carney and Andrew Brazle for their chocolate pizza.
Proceeds from the event benefit Janet Weis Children\’s Hospital pediatric services.
Children\’s Miracle Network at Geisinger helps make miracles happen every day at Janet Weis Children\’s Hospital, Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, and more than 40 medical groups and pediatric specialty outreach clinics throughout a 31-county area, including offices in Altoona, State College and DuBois. A nonprofit organization, it has raised more than $29 million for pediatric services, equipment and programs throughout the Geisinger Health System since 1984. For more information on Children\’s Miracle Network at Geisinger, call 1-800-451-5437 or (814) 943-8887, or visit

By Rick