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Chocolate celebration: 19th annual event to benefit Samaritan Caregivers slated for Friday after being rescheduled

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chocolate celebration

SWEET — Chocolate Celebration customers exchange tickets for chocolate items at a previous year's Chocolate Celebration. This year's event will be back on May 7 after being rescheduled due to COVID-19.

For the past 19 years, Samaritan Caregivers’ Chocolate Celebration has given the community dozens and dozens of chocolate treats to enjoy just before Valentine’s Day, but this year the event falls just before Mother’s Day.

The popular event was rescheduled from its original February date to this Friday, May 7, due to COVID-19. Now, the 19th annual event is returning amid warmer weather, and 30-plus vendors have jumped back in, ready to dish out sugar for a good cause. Jamey Henderson, executive director of Samaritan Caregivers, said she was excited to not only be able to put on a fund raiser again but also to give the community something fun to enjoy.

“We consider our organization to be extremely blessed that we are able to move forward with having the event at the rescheduled time. We were very concerned about the pandemic last December when we rescheduled, and we moved on with a little bit of uncertainty. But we could not be happier, so thrilled, to be able to have this event not just because it’s our cornerstone fund-raising event — it is — but because it’s something I think people have really missed,” Henderson said.

Now, Henderson is expecting more than vendors at the event. Longtime favorites like Cook McDoogal’s and St. Patrick’s Church will be returning. Cook McDoogal’s will be back with its “famous” Ghirardelli brownies with a selection of sauces and St. Patrick’s Church with its made-from-scratch Texas sheet cake.

Trilogy Health Services, which has become known for its elaborate themed booth every year, will return for another shot at winning the event’s best-themed booth contest, and Community Howard Regional Health, one of the event’s longest-running vendors, will be on site with chocolate caramel turtle brownies.

Other longtime vendors include Aperion Care, which will be bringing Candyland cake pops, Ascension at Home with Cone Palace soft serve ice cream, and Bona Vista Programs with chocolate energy bites.

While many favorites are returning, this year is bringing in some brand-new vendors as well. Silver Birch Kokomo has signed on for the first time and will be serving chewy chocolate brownies with cream cheese and strawberries, and Tastefully Indiana also is joining in. Amy Stier, owner of Tastefully Indiana, was a vendor years ago at Chocolate Celebration with her catering company at the time. Now, she’s returning, this time with Tastefully Indiana, to serve black forest brownies and chocolate mint bundt cake.

Then back for the second year will be Glover’s Ice Cream. Since 1925, the company has been selling ice cream commercially, but this spring, Glover’s Pizza and Ice Cream will open in Webster Plaza, marking its first storefront.

Dennis Grover, a minority owner for the new shop, said he’s looking forward to planting roots in Kokomo and continuing to be involved in community events, such as Chocolate Celebration.

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“(We want to be involved) because of what it represents. Samaritan Caregivers helps out people in the community, and this is another way for us basically giving back. It’s a very easy thing to do for whoever is participating in it, and it is a great way to advertise. But more than that, it’s a great way of helping out a good cause,” Grover said.

Glover’s Ice Cream will be serving three flavors of ice cream: chocolate, death by chocolate, and chocolate chip.

As always, the Grace United Methodist Church Women will be providing lunch. Instead of the traditional sloppy joes and soup that’s served in February, the spring menu offers chicken salad on a dinner roll or ham and cheese with chips or apple sauce and bottled water.

Henderson said the event is an important fund raiser for Samaritan Caregivers, which offers free help to seniors age 65 and older still living at home. During COVID, the nonprofit never stopped operating, she said, and even ramped up its services as new issues were brought to light.

“We have seen people who have developed health concerns and kind of major depressive episodes just because they were so scared to leave their home or let anyone come into their home, and it’s heartbreaking,” Henderson said. “We also got calls from some people, and some older people did not have a full realization of how the pandemic was unfolding.”

Due to people needing food and being unable to get out, having to shelter at home, or being financially strapped, Samaritan Caregivers started a new grocery program in which volunteers shoppers shop for those in need at no cost to them.

The program is funded through Duke Energy and a new partnership with the city of Kokomo.

The 19th annual Chocolate Celebration takes place Friday, May 7, at First Church of the Nazarene, located at 2734 S. Washington St., from 11 to 2 p.m. Tickets are three for $10 with each ticket redeemable for a chocolate item. Tickets are available in advance at Samaritan Caregivers’ office, 2705 S. Berkley Road, or the day of the event. Business delivery is offered for $5 for orders of $30 or more.

This year, a cookbook filled with around 100 recipes that were submitted by community members will be for sale for $25 as well.

A shuttle service will be offered from the middle of the Maple Crest Shopping Center parking lot to the church continually from 11 to 1 in case parking is limited at the church. The event is sponsored by J. Edwards Fine Chocolates.