KENNEWICK — Excited children bustled about Deanna Cannon's house in east Kennewick. A decorated tree sparkled in one corner and the smell of fresh cookies wafted from the kitchen table.
The kids were not excited about eating the spoils of their daylong baking, or about getting presents soon -- they were looking forward to giving.
Making the holidays memorable for one less-fortunate family has become a Christmas tradition in Cannon's extended family.
This will be the fourth year the Cannons have held a two-day bake sale to benefit a family picked out for them by a Pasco food bank. It has become a way of teaching good values to the youngest family members and returning a favor paid to the Cannons eight years ago.
This year's sale is from noon to 6 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. until they run out of cookies Saturday at the Gesa Credit Union, 2202 W. Sylvester St., Pasco.
The table in Cannon's kitchen this week practically buckled under a load of homemade suckers, caramel, pumpkin rolls, cupcakes and cookies. And the gathered bakers weren't anywhere near done yet.
They were about to make a store run to get more ingredients and were planning on filling cookie sheets into the night.
Kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews chattered and baked. Sure, they got a taste of the finished product here and there, but that's not why they were working so hard.
Cannon's family has learned how good it feels to help others through the annual bake sale.
"Christmas for a lot of kids is gimme, gimme, gimme," Cannon said. "But it's not about taking, it's about giving."
The kids talk about the next Christmas bake sale all year, Cannon said.
"At this point, they're pushing me to do it," she said.
Part of the fun is that the kids get to see the results of their efforts. The Cannons sell about $800 to $1,000 worth of baked goods each year.
They ask a Pasco food bank in advance to recommend a family that could really use the money and would spend it wisely.
And on Sunday, Cannon, her three daughters, two granddaughters and niece and nephew will go to the family's house to deliver the money. This year, the gift will go to a Pasco couple with five kids who have fallen on hard times.
It's a moving scene every time, and not just because of the usually overwhelming gratitude of the recipients.
Eight years ago, the shoe was on the other foot.
Cannon's daughter, Kristin, now 18, unexpectedly suffered a seizure during a trip to Seattle in summer 2003.
Doctors removed a tennis ball-sized tumor from Kristin's brain, according to a Herald story at the time.
The girl had to learn how to walk and talk again.
She is fine now -- a blond, smiling teen driving to the store to get more baking supplies. But she and her mother had a lot of support back then.
"People helped us out when we needed it," Cannon said. "We had a lot of community support."
People in Othello, where the Cannons lived at the time, put on benefit breakfasts and other fundraising events.
Helping others through the bake sale now is "really emotional," Kristin said.
She was too young -- and too sick -- to know what support her family had eight years ago.
"But looking back at it now, I realize how much people helped out," she said. "It feels good to give back.".