Fruitcake has been an unlikely source of revenue for Mount Mary University for decades, funding anything from books to building projects. Today, thanks to Sister Georgeann’s Fruitcake Endowed Scholarship, proceeds help finance a university education for a single mother or returning student.
Here are a few facts about the much-loved annual fruitcake tradition:
- Sister Georgeann Krzyzanowski has been in charge of making and selling fruitcakes for the past 28 years.
- She started the Sister Georgeann Fruitcake Endowed Scholarship in 2008 with $50,000 in proceeds from her annual sales. The scholarship is given to single mothers or returning students who are pursuing a degree in education.
- Sister Georgeann took over as head of Building and Grounds in 1987 when her predecessor, Sister Mary John Van Vonderen, retired. Sister Georgeann had assisted Sister Mary John with the fruitcakes for years, and she continued the tradition after Sister Mary John retired.
- Mount Mary University’s fruitcake tradition began in the 1970s, with Sister Mary John Van Vonderen, head of Buildings and Grounds. Previously, Sister Mary John had been selling her own baked goods to raise funds for campus projects or for various charities dating back as far as 1955.
- The proceeds of the fruitcakes sales were initially donated to the library fund, but over time the money has been used to address various campus needs and to purchase things not accounted for in yearly budgets.
- Sister Mary John Van Vonderen, who started this tradition, was an interesting woman. She was the head of Building and Grounds for 65 years, arriving in Milwaukee in 1928 and helping oversee the construction of the original buildings (Notre Dame and Caroline Halls). She lived to be 100 years old.