I live a fairly regular life. I have a regular job, live in a regular home, and occasionally, despite my preference for the late Romantic period, listen to regular music. Things like traffic and slow internet annoy me terribly, and the last time I got upset enough to cry was almost exactly a year ago, when the dog ate my Easter cake. (It’s been a year and the story still hasn’t reached “Oh, this’ll be funny someday!” status.)
But, as happens every once in a while, something hit me with such gravity that it really threw me back in my place. Last November, as I was meandering about the “America’s Baking and Sweets Show,” I happened upon a nonprofit organization called “Icing Smiles,” which matches bakers with children that are in the midst of serious illness, and provides the child with a “Dream Cake” for his or her birthday. I sat in the car when the show was over and watched a captivating video from their founder that explained perfectly the mission of this organization.
To be quite honest, part of me thought: how silly! A child is fighting for his life here, and the best I have to offer is a cake with Thomas the Tank Engine? This cake-decorating hobby feels frivolous at times, but never more than when I pictured myself walking into a hospital room and presenting a family in the midst of crisis with silly cake. I would rather melt into the wall than “show off” a cake to a family that has, literally, life and death on their mind.
But then I saw the online photos of previous recipients, with absolute wonder on their faces. These kids, hooked up to wires and IVs or recovering from operations or waiting for transplants, endure a pain and worry that I cannot even comprehend. With Icing Smiles, I would have a chance, if only for an instant, to provide a fleeting moment of distraction. I realized that yes, it is frivolous, but isn’t a birthday frivolous, anyways? An entire day dedicated solely to mark the date the world first saw You as You? It was exactly this sort of triviality that these children deserved. A day where they think not of doctors and needles and pain and fear, but of cake. And frosting and sprinkles and chocolate and smiling!
Here are some of the ways you can help “Bake a Difference” for a sick child (or their sibling- and how cool is that?!):
* Be a “Sugar Angel” (baker): When a need is identified in your area, you get an email asking your availability. If you are free, a representative will send you the family’s requests. (Note: many states, including mine, do not require Sugar Angels to be licensed bakers. You are covered under Icing Smiles’ insurance, and your cake supplies are tax deductible.)
* Help with Delivery: Bring the cake from the baker to the child.
* Cookie Club: For those unfamiliar with (or not interested in) making large cakes, you might like to join the Cookie Club. These volunteers bake cookies to send to the medical families on a “regular day.” Just because. Other volunteers bake cookies and treats for families staying at Ronald McDonald houses.
* Donate: Icing Smiles is a volunteer-run organization, but they obviously have unavoidable operating costs. They rely on donations/partnerships from individuals and corporations alike.
* Fundraise: Host a bake sale! Have a restaurant fundraiser! Help your local school run a fundraiser! (How neat- kids helping kids. 🙂 )
* Get the Word Out: Follow Icing Smiles via social media! If you work in the medical field, tell your PR department! Ask your local bakeries if they’ve heard of Icing Smiles and if they’d like to participate!
Have questions? Leave a comment below! Or check out their website here: http://www.icingsmiles.org/