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Service Spotlight: Cake4Kids

I am thrilled to share this week’s Service Spotlight as it highlights two of my favorite things: service and baking! Meet Alison Bakewell, Executive Director of Cake4Kids a California-based organization that operates across 19 U.S. states.


Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is!”

Alison: Happiness is knowing we have brought a little light, hope, and joy into the lives of youth.


Liz: Tell me about Cake4Kids.

Alison: Take a moment to imagine going through your childhood being overlooked or neglected with no one remembering let alone celebrating you, your birthday, or your accomplishments. For youth experiencing homelessness, recovering from abuse or trafficking, moving through foster care, or living at the poverty line this is their reality.


Every day Cake4Kids is changing this reality, providing at-risk youth with positive, critical childhood experiences that build their self-esteem and help guide them toward a bright future—their very own cake in celebration of birthdays, graduations, adoptions, and academic awards. The simplest gesture of being seen and celebrated makes a world of difference.


Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?

Alison: There is a staggering number of youth experiencing homelessness, recovering from abuse or trafficking, moving through foster care, or living at the poverty line in the United States, and there are hundreds of thousands of kids, teens, and young adults who need our support. We recognize that the underserved youth we serve require food, shelter, safety, and education first and foremost, but those elements are simply not enough to create a positive childhood and guide them into successful adulthood. 


With every cake delivery we are creating critical childhood experiences and social support that make youth feel whole and help carry them through their trauma. Each cake is a reminder that they matter; there is a community standing with them.


We often hear from the youth who generously share their stories about what their cake meant to them. For many, it’s their first-ever birthday cake or cupcake whether they are 6, 14, or 21. For most, it’s the first time someone took the time to make them feel valued or special. 


One sixteen-year-old said, “The cake was really delicious and the only thing I wanted to do was give you guys my blessing for a healthy and happy life, because you don’t even know the people that you give a cake to but still you baked them, leaving them feeling special because that’s how I felt. That there was someone that didn’t know me but they still baked a cake just for me making me feel special, loved, and happy. And I know there’s a lot of people who feel the same way as me. Thanks for everything… for making us special, for making us happy, for making us feel like someone cares about us.”


These are the stories that motivate us every single day!


Liz: What does service mean to you?

Alison: For us, service means lifting up those around us through small acts of kindness. The joy on the face of a child holding their cake shows the profound effect each of us can make by taking some time out of our day to show others they matter. 


Liz: How can people get involved? 

Alison: Anyone can get involved with Cake4Kids and help make an impact in communities across the country. No matter where you live or how much time you have to volunteer, there’s a way to make a difference!


Volunteer: 


Donate: 


Spread the word: 

Liz: Anything else you'd like to add?

Alison: Cake4Kids has been delivering hope and smiles to youth since 2010. We’re an ever-growing nonprofit with chapters coast to coast, each with a thriving community of volunteers, supporters, partners, and more. We joke that we’re small but mighty! Our core team is 8 staff and we work on everything from strategy to social media, agency partnerships to fundraising, and volunteer recruiting to decorating emergencies. With a small team, everyone wears many hats! But we couldn’t do this work without the support of our chapter ambassadors and our operations volunteers! Our Ambassadors volunteer to lead each Cake4Kids region and help build a thriving community of volunteers and supporters in local communities, assist in fundraising, and build and manage agency partnerships. They are a key part of our organization! We also have a team of over 100 operations volunteers who help with local events, social media, tech support, and volunteer support in their chapters.


Liz: Do you have a favorite quote or piece of advice to leave us with?

Alison: Our favorite quotes come from the youth who receive our service. Their words inspire our work and remind us all how a seemingly simple gift makes a difference.


“Birthdays are bittersweet for me ever since I was younger and when I received this cake as a surprise from my team I began to cry. The cake was decorated with everything I like, and the cake tasted amazing. I am so thankful for people like you and thank you for making my birthday special again. I enjoyed sharing my cake with the other kids in here and with the staff that care for us as well. Thank you again." - Adrian



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