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Baking for a cure, one cake at a time #Giving Tuesday Baking for a cure, one cake at a time

Anne K. Fishel

Baking for a cureAt a recent party, after eating a huge second helping of a sublime mocha layer cake, I begged my hostess, Alice, for the name of the bakery where she had purchased the cake.  She smiled and told me that it had been made by a teenage friend of hers—Charlotte, a 9th-grader who makes cakes, cupcakes and cookies for an organization she founded called Rose’s Garden Cakes.

“Isn’t that the most amazing cake you ever had?” Alice asked.  Yes, it was, and I wanted to learn more.

Alice explained that the money Charlotte raises goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Charlotte has been doing this since she was 12, after a three-year-old girl, named Rose, died from leukemia.

bakersI contacted Charlotte to find out more about Rose’s Garden Cakes, and more about little Rose, who had inspired her baking. Rose was a girl with whom Charlotte had a special bond, a girl who always ran and hugged Charlotte when they greeted each other.  Charlotte loved Rose and saw her every Saturday at temple. Charlotte told me that Rose’s death was one of the saddest moments of her life. When her mother told her that Rose had died, she couldn’t believe that this could happen to “someone as young, sweet, and innocent as Rose, who had brought so much happiness and joy to everyone.” Charlotte harnessed her sadness, and her sense of the unfairness of a disease taking the life of such a young innocent. She wanted to play a role in stamping out the disease.

Charlotte has been baking her whole life, so it wasn’t a stretch for her to turn to baking as a fundraiser, but she is also quite shy. As she explained to me: “Baking is something I’ve always loved, yet talking to people and asking for donations is not my strong suit and has never been my favorite thing.”  The cakes and cookies speak volumes.

cakesFor this charity, Charlotte fills on average 4 to 5 orders a months, although business heats up during the holidays, when she asks her friends to help her fill 20 orders at a time.

Charlotte is forthcoming about the benefits she derives from her fundraising.  “Baking relaxes me and frees me of any stress or bad feelings I have. When I actually donate the money I receive, it fills me with a great feeling, one where I know I am doing something right that should help hopefully many people. … Seeing all the money that I have been able to raise for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society makes me believe that it truly matters what I am doing, and that is an amazing feeling.”

cookie monstersWhile I could eat her mocha layer cake every day of the year, Charlotte told me that she much prefers the baking to the eating.  Her favorite confection is a chocolate cherry toffee cookie, a recipe given to her from one of her mother’s students. She likes the mix of flavors—the tartness of the cherries, the crisp of the toffee and melty gooiness of the chocolate chips.

I asked Charlotte to offer advice to others who might want to use their culinary talents for raising money for a cause.  She began by emphasizing the deep satisfaction she gets from giving. “Doing something good for other people is amazing, and if you can achieve that while doing something you love—that is perfect.”

Then, she offered these suggestions to anyone who wants to cook for a charitable purpose:

  • Be sure you have a good understanding of the organization you are supporting so that you can explain it well to your target donors
  • Make a poster that can be handed out to teachers, friends and neighbors
  • Create a special email address just for your fundraising efforts.

Charlotte’s email, for example, is roses.garden.cakes@gmail.com

Drop her a line if you’d like some delicious treats while helping the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the same time!