In the Lancaster High School cafeteria kitchen, students baked far more than a baker's dozen of Christmas cookies Thursday.
In 2 1/2 hours, 15 students and two supervisors made 4,223 cookies for needy families during the first day of a three-day baking marathon.
Their goal is to bake 6,000 cookies in all.
"That's exciting," senior Jamie Zaccaria, co-chair of the cookie marathon, said after the students tallied up their total late Thursday. "Hopefully, we'll go over the 6,000."
Cookies with Snickerdoodles, sprinkled sugar and M&M's were baked Thursday. On Friday, chocolate chip cookies will be in the oven.
Lancaster High's Christmas cookie-marathon, in at least its 13th year, will wrap up on Monday, when the cookies will be packaged by students. They'll be given to nearly 200 needy families on Tuesday as part of the Lancaster Youth Bureau's annual Day of Giving which includes food, gifts and Christmas trees.
"It's a pretty big undertaking," said Sandy Stoeckl, faculty cook manager for the cookie extravaganza. Stoeckl stays late after her school cafeteria job to supervise the students' massive effort. "I look forward to it and it's fun. It gets me in the holiday spirit and is just a wonderful program."
As students baked after school in orderly assembly-line fashion, Charlie Brown Christmas music played on a nearby radio tuned to holiday classics. Most of the boys were busy making cookie dough, while the girls scooped it and put it on trays for baking.
"This is super organized this year," Stoeckl said. "There's not a whole lot of flour flying around."
So what do you need to make four varieties and that many cookies?
Students from the school's Leadership Academy have it down to a science. With donated funds from local stores, this week they bought 160 pounds of flour, 80 pounds of sugar, more than 300 eggs, 60 pounds of shortening and other ingredients.
"It just feels really good to help because I know my family makes cookies every year, and it feels good to give cookies to families who can't necessarily afford it," Zaccaria said.