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Pie of the Month Club takes off at UJ

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Keith Braddock, leader of the Pie of the Month Club at the University of Jamestown, distributes desserts during the first official meeting for the club in October. Submitted photo

Keith Braddock takes his pie seriously.

"Cheesecake is not a pie," Braddock said. "We get that suggestion all the time. It is not a pie."

This passion for baked goods is one of the reasons Braddock decided to start his own club at the University of Jamestown. The club: Pie of the Month Club.

"It was an idea I had. So competition is like really good, right? So we were hoping for another club to pop up that would be like a 'cake club' or something. So instead of being Democrat versus Republican, it would be pie versus cake," Braddock said. "Well, the cake club was never founded."

Braddock, a sophomore dual-majoring in psychology and theater, is from Stanley, North Dakota, and moved to Jamestown to experience life outside of his hometown.

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He said the club met for the first time in October the night after UJ's homecoming football game. Braddock said over 120 people showed up, including UJ faculty and staff.

"I just wanted to start another club where I could get food," Braddock said. "We meet, I give a little speech, and then we kind of just eat pie. It's more of just a social club than anything."

Braddock said the goal for the meetings is to create a '"pieluck" atmosphere. Braddock said this means having a potluck, but with pie.

"We didn't have money right away ... so I had a bunch of people come with Perkin's pies and over in Ashley they have a bakery and they donated like six pies, so it was kind of freewill donation for our first meeting," Braddock said. "This meeting coming up, we're actually paying some people in the community to help make the pies. It's crazy."

Braddock said the Pie of the Month Club's next meeting will be next week and will offer a Thanksgiving theme for its pie-eating members.

"Pumpkin. Pecan. And I think chocolate pudding pie. It's something I've never had but I guess it's a seasonal thing," Braddock said. "I've had a lot of people actually come up and ask me 'Hey, can I make some pies for you?' and of course I'm going to say yes to free pie."

Erin Edinger, director of student activities at UJ, said having the club on campus is unique and extremely beneficial, especially for students who are unable to travel home for the holidays.

"Food is one of those things that just brings people together. Celebrations all have some aspect of food, and that's important, especially for college students," Edinger said. "This club allows students to make a connection with one another and to make memories that they will all talk about for years. Everybody remembers their college years. For these students, this will be a story they will be able to share for the rest of their lives."

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Braddock said the Pie of the Month Club could seem like a joke, and he agrees that the concept of it is comical, but Braddock also has some serious aspirations to positively impact the community of Jamestown.

"Everyone eats. So we all have this mutual connection in that aspect. Who doesn't like pie? I think it just builds a better community, both on campus and off," Braddock said. "What I really want to do in the future is to make sure that we're doing more service stuff. We meet once a month to eat pie, but say we also go to the Anne Carlsen Center or the State Hospital and help them ... and maybe we can get some people to share their recipes with us."

Mike McIntyre, director of theatre at UJ, said Braddock has an "infectious amount of energy" both in the theater and outside of the spotlight.

"When he and some other theater students were setting goals for the UJ Drama Club, he expressed how much he enjoyed forming bold ventures," McIntyre said. "And Pie of the Month Club was born. His fearlessness is apparent when he is performing and when it comes to trying new ideas."

Braddock plans to continue with the Pie of the Month Club throughout the rest of his time at UJ and urges students, facility and staff not to hesitate to join the club in enjoying a wide variety of pies.

"It's been interesting watching this club from the start. I've never seen a club take off as quickly as this club has," Edinger said. "It's fun to see students want to get involved in the community. It gives them a break from school or sports or work or whatever else they have going on and allows them to just take a step away.

"I think the club's aspiration's are admirable and the outreach to the community is important. Just the lightheartedness of it," Edinger said. "Who wouldn't want to check it out? Pie of the Month Club, it doesn't sound like anything that would belong on a college campus, but the students are enjoying it. Who doesn't like pie?"

As for the verdict on cheesecake eventually making its way into the club, Braddock wasn't having it.

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"We officially stand that cheesecake is not a type of pie, but it is an honorary mention for our club," Braddock said.

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