How a small gesture turned into a monster holiday cookie project

Cindy Agnes has always had a passion for baking.

In 2008 when her husband Gerry, the then newly appointed President and Chief Executive Officer for Elevations Credit Union, held a BBQ for the credit union’s staff, she thought some homemade cookies would be a nice addition to the celebration.

When the holidays came around, Cindy added the Elevations Board of Directors to the fun, making her delectables to help wish the board a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Since 2013, Cindy has baked at least a dozen cookies per employee each holiday season, and she and Gerry deliver them to all Elevations locations along the Front Range. In 2013, Elevations had 322 employees. Fast forward to 2022, Cindy now bakes over 7,000 cookies for the 600-plus Elevations staff. To accomplish this takes 398 eggs, 342 cups of flour, 297 sticks of butter and 269 cups of sugar, along with an abundance of chocolate chips, nuts, and M&M’s. She starts preparations in early November so that, come December, she’s ready to deliver her scrumptious cookies to each of the credit union’s locations.

How it started

In the early days, a couple trays of three types of cookies were enough to put smiles on everyone’s faces.

Along the way, Cindy figured providing for more than just the staff at BBQ’s and for a board meeting was needed. She expanded her operations to include the entire company. In 2017 she recruited one of her daughters, Kristin Agnes, to help her bake, decorate and package the cookies.

“I love the staff!” Cindy said. “They all work so hard, and they’re just like family. As the Elevations family grew, we just started making more cookies. I make a lot of cookies because it’s important to me to have the staff have enough to bring some home to their families and neighbors.”

As the Elevations team grew each year, so did Cindy’s baking efforts. Though she and Kristin still make all the cookies in her home kitchen, she’s acquired three stand mixers and three chest freezers for all the prepared dough waiting patiently for baking day.

However, when baking is done, the project still needs to be completed. Cindy, Kristin, and Gerry then package and load up all the cookies for delivery — a process that usually lasts a couple of days.

Labor of love

The gargantuan act of accomplishing an undertaking of this caliber shows how big Cindy’s heart is. Oh, and she’s always willing to share her delicious recipes!

She also gets feedback from the staff each year, helping her improve for the next season. These could include boxes for staff to take home cookies, more fan-favorite flavors, and even an improved way to deliver cookies using large catering boxes instead of trays.

When it comes to recipes, Cindy is always open to trying something new. In 2021, for instance, she debuted the “Grinch” cookie — a green cookie with a red heart. (We could neither confirm nor deny the heart being two sizes too small.)

The yearly cookie-making event organically grew each year out of Cindy’s love for baking. She always made cookies for her kids when they were growing up, and when Cindy and Gerry were younger, she made and sold her cinnamon rolls.

She passed on her love of baking to her two daughters and son, Eric. Her daughter Nicole even went to culinary school and became a pastry chef, while her daughter Kristin helps plan the cookie supplies shopping and enjoys helping bake and decorate each year.

Involved process

When it comes to logistics, it becomes a family affair. Cindy and all three children put together a list of supplies and plan the cookie list, and Gerry provides a count of Elevations team members at each location. When the big day arrives, Cindy, Kristin, and Gerry’s baking, boxing and organizing runs late into the evening and through the next morning, when deliveries start.

Gerry and Cindy start up north in Fort Collins and work their way south on I-25, hitting each branch, mortgage office and back-office location for a total of 20 stops.

Not even a worldwide pandemic could stop Cindy. In 2020, when so much in the world came to a screeching halt, Cindy, Kristin, and Gerry decided to continue the tradition with some changes. With support from the team, they boxed and delivered cookies to every employee.

When all was said and done, the couple said the most challenging part was not being able to bring trays to all the branches and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

At Elevations, work-life balance and employee satisfaction are big priorities. An atmosphere like that starts at the top, and Cindy and Gerry’s dedication and thoughtfulness are certainly a big part of that culture.

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