What started as a gesture to provide birthday cakes to some foster children and at-risk youth has turned into something the creator could never have imagined.
It all started in Sunnyvale, California when Libby Gruender read an article about a young girl in foster care who received her first-ever birthday cake. After hearing about this, Libby made it her goal to make sure the children in her community had cakes to celebrate their birthdays.
What Libby started in 2010 as an effort with very few volunteers baking 13 cakes for a few agencies turned into a huge operation that now has hundreds of volunteers.
Cake4Kids is now baking over 3,000 cakes a year for over 140 agencies.
Kids can even submit their own requests on what they want their birthday cake to look like.
The people who bake these cakes never get to meet the kids because of privacy concerns. Rather, they deliver cakes to caseworkers.
"Me baking something that they personally want for their birthday cake is just such a rewarding experience," Cake4Kids social media coordinator and volunteer baker Malissa Tibbling said.
Connecticut's Cake4Kids branch started about a year ago when a local family decided to expand from California's chapter and move here.
It started when the parents of this family were stressed out about their kid's upcoming birthday. They couldn't afford a cake, so they started looking for local resources to help, but couldn't find any in Connecticut.
That is when they found Cake4Kids in California and saw they were looking to expand, so she reached out to them and started the process to open up a chapter here in Connecticut.
So far, 32 cakes have been made to date with a lot more requests lined up.
"A lot of the times, the kids and parents are blown away by how the cake looks. Some of our volunteer bakers do an incredible job, just as a hobby, the cakes come out looking like they are professionally done," CT Cake4Kids Ambassador Jaclyn Dougan said.
Libby passed away in 2013 and Cake4Kids says they're not only keeping her mission going but every year, they recruit new volunteers, partner with more agencies and provide more and more children with birthday cakes for their special day.
In the times of COVID-19, the operation has had to adjust. With volunteers getting sick, others volunteered to pick up cake requests and the whole thing has been a huge team effort. There have even been contactless deliveries to keep everyone safe.
Volunteers say the effort is certainly a rewarding experience.
"It's definitely a rewarding experience, it's great to let those kids know that someone is thinking about them on their special day," Dougan said.
Cake4Kids is always looking for volunteers. To find out how you can help, visit their website.