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The Power of Cake

Bay Area children's charity makes cake for foster kids

Let’s talk about cake. Cake is the product of layering cooked batter, moist frosting and varying toppings. It comes in every flavor imaginable — something as simple as dark chocolate fudge to something as strange as sweet olive oil. But cake is much more than just a dessert — it evokes a level of joy no other food can.

Think about it. On every happy occasion, there is always cake. On your birthday, there’s cake. At your wedding, there’s cake. On holidays, there’s cake. And on your graduation — you guessed it — there’s cake.

Cake is a lot more powerful than many of us know. So this summer, I decided to take advantage of that.

Mid-quarantine, I stumbled across the opportunity to be a part of Cake4kids. It was everything I could dream about: it combined both my love for baking and helping others in one package.

Cake4Kids is a program that serves at-risk youth, ages 1-24, including kids in group homes, foster care, homeless shelters, domestic violence or human trafficking shelters, low-income housing, substance abuse programs or refugees.

Currently, there are 400,000 kids in foster care. One child out of every 30 is homeless. 15.5 million children live in a home where domestic violence has occurred at least once in the past year. Human trafficking is the second largest international crime industry, worth $32 billion annually.

Cake4Kids bakes cakes, cupcakes, brownies and other treats to raise the esteem of kids who face these challenges daily.

Now, you might be thinking: how is a cake going to help?

Well, a cake isn’t necessarily going to solve these problems, but it can give these kids a glimpse of hope in a world that they’ve only known to be cruel.

When I attended the Cake4Kids meeting, the coordinators went over the program instructions and rules. One of the coordinators described a story of giving a little girl a cake and the girl immediately running up to her foster mom crying. The coordinator was shocked and went up to the little girl, asking if there was something wrong with cake. The coordinator offered to change the color of the cake or even to redo it. The little girl then explained that she was crying happy tears because she was so overwhelmed — she had never had a cake on her birthday before.

Stories like these show how special and loved a cake can make a kid feel. When I became a volunteer, I wanted to do what that coordinator had done — I wanted to make kids feel worthy and cared for with my cakes.

In the Cake4Kids program, you have to be 18 years old to decorate cakes by yourself, and 16 years old to be a parent-teen team. Since I am 16, I decided to team up with my mom, who has created recipes for Food52 and entered Pillsbury baking contests all her life.

As a volunteer, you are responsible for signing up to make a cake, making the kid’s desired cake flavor, decorating the cake according to the kid’s wishes, delivering the cake to the social workers partnered with Cake4Kids and writing an email about your experience baking the cake to the coordinators.

To keep each kid’s personal information and identity anonymous, bakers don’t get any feedback on how the kid liked the cake unless the parent or social worker is comfortable providing it.

Cake4Kids has given me so much joy, and I hope it has given thousands of kids that same joy as well.

As I continue with my journey with Cake4Kids throughout this year, I will never forget the power a cake holds.

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