Students Are Working to Make Sure Everyone, from Kids to Seniors, Gets a Cake on Their Birthday
These teenagers are baking a difference.
Allison Wachen, 17, found a way to put her skills in the kitchen to good use in her community: she founded the Montgomery County, Maryland, chapter of the non-profit organization Birthday Cakes 4 Free, which bakes, decorates and delivers the traditional dessert to people who would otherwise go without.
“It’s just such a basic thing but I think on your birthday, the whole idea of having a birthday cake and having the celebration with your friends and family…reaffirms that you really have a community supporting you, but it’s also something just very special,” Wachen told ABC News.
When the club was first started by Wachen and her younger brother, Robert Wachen, they faced some hurdles as the sole chapter run by kids. Many volunteers were too young to afford supplies or drive, and they had to find charities that would accept the cakes.
They raised money through bake sales and obtaining grants, and their chapter now boasts more than 400 members. The students are scheduled to deliver their 2,000th cake in April.
“The idea that you’re making a cake for other people that otherwise wouldn’t get one shows that people value you and would take their own personal time for someone that they don’t personally know but still think they are important,” Wachen said.
Each month, middle and high school students gather at someone’s home or at a local community center for decorating socials, where they are encouraged to make every cake as unique as possible.
Wachen said, “I always tell our volunteers: ‘Make this cake as if you were giving it to someone in your family.’ ”
The high school student then delivers the cakes from her mom’s minivan to 17 local charities in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area, including homeless shelters and Boys and Girls clubs.
“Every month they refer to this as ‘Cake Day,’ ” program director at the Jelleff Club of the Greater Washington Boys & Girls Club Tarayra Staton said. “It’s kids that actually make them, so when we have other kids making the cakes and giving it to our members, really, really think that’s cool.”
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And the youngsters agree.
“It’s nice, that they do it for other kids,” one girl said at a cake party.
“And they don’t even know us,” another added.