As a mom, one of the biggest challenges I face is showing my kids what “real life” is like for people other than us. My children have a roof over their head, food when they want it and a loving family. That is more than most of the children in this world have. Add in toys, clothing, school, and sports activities and they are considered extremely blessed!
I am so appreciative of those blessings and I want my kids to feel that way also. Being surrounded by it daily, it becomes so commonplace that they truly don’t know any different.
Imagine a child who has never had the opportunity to make chocolate chip cookies. Yes, in a home, with a loving mother who spends time with a baking sheet making cookies together. Well, that happens every day, and in 2008 Bake Me Home was started when Alison Bushman and her twin daughters, Emma and Amy, decided to do something about it.
After years of volunteering at a homeless shelter by collecting gifts at their birthday parties and making breakfast in the shelter’s kitchen, the girls, at the time age of 7, wanted to do more. Alison became very disheartened when she saw young children at the shelter unable to participate in the cooking and baking their family was doing because of safety rules in the kitchen. Their little faces just peeking in and watching made her realize that a simple act of baking together as a family was not something these children had often had the privilege of doing with their families.
A simple mason jar of cookie mix changed their life. Following a cooking camp, the girls brought home this mason jar to their mom, and a light bulb went off for them! They realized for families leaving the shelter that baking cookies together was a way of celebrating a new life in their new home. However, the reality that most would not even have a bowl, spoon and cookie sheet to make the mix, prompted them to begin the Bake Me Home tote bag program.
Bake Me Home, now in their 8th year of operation, is a non- profit which began in their home, and borrowed Church kitchen space. Jars of cookie mix were assembled and added to tote bags of baking supplies with a $10 gift card to Kroger for the butter and eggs they would need (plus a lot of love!).
Here’s what’s in the bag:
- Jar of Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
- $10 Kroger Grocery Store Gift Card
- Baking Sheet
- Toothbrushes and Toothpaste
- Family Cookbook
Today, the organization has partnered with over 20 local agencies and given away more than 2,600 tote bags. They have their own location and have expanded their programming to include not only families experiencing homelessness, but also military members and veterans.
In addition, Picture Me Home, founded in 2009, has become a favorite for local families. Families receive a framed 5×7 photograph taken by local professional photographers right on the spot. For many of these, it is the only photograph they own of their child. As a mom, this brings tears to my eyes to think of never having a photo of my kids and how cherished this simple gesture must be.
So How Can You Get Involved? Great Question!
Give Your Time
- Cookie Mix and Tote Bag Assembly: Children 4 years and older can volunteer in the building to help fill jars of cookie mix and stuff tote bags of baking supplies.
- Cookie Delivery/Tote Bag Delivery: Volunteers of all ages can deliver tote bags and cookies to local agencies
- Help With Portraits: Children 6 and up can assist Photographers with printing portraits and putting them in picture frames.
- The organization utilizes Sign Up Genius on their website to schedule volunteering at their facility.
Give Your Money
Monetary donations cover expenses such as baking ingredients, baking materials, tote bags and the Kroger gift cards that come in each bag. With additional funding Bake Me Home can serve more of the families in our community who are eager for this special gift.
Give A Gift
This Holiday season, you can give a gift of Bake Me Home to someone else.
- $20 donation you receive a a jar of cookie mix in a ready to give gift bag with a ribbon
- $10 donation you receive a cookbook
These make great corporate gifts and hostess gifts. A volume discount does apply! Contact them at [email protected] or 513-231-4663.
I believe that the more children are exposed to serving others, the more they begin to think outside of themselves. They become more satisfied with what they have and increasingly compassionate to others. Isn’t that we all want for our children?