When we first started posting about some of the simple ways we were taking time out of our day to care for others, my friend, Amy, texted me about a project she was involved in. She is a member of a Birthday Cake Club in a nearby city that provides birthday cakes for kids in foster care. I loved the idea and filed it away as a project I’d love to get started in my own community someday.
Our church started a local ministry effort, called #ForYork. The focus of the campaign is to show York, our city, that we are FOR them. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but Nate and I lead the community service team part of the effort. We’ve started to build a relationship with a local children’s agency that does adoption, foster care, family support programs and has two group homes for teenage boys and girls. While meeting with two staff members from the organization, they mentioned their girls home did not have any groups providing birthday treats on their specials days.
My mama heart can’t handle that! I knew our church could easily meet this need. Not only could we meet it, but we would LOVE to do it!
Here’s how I set it up (and you can, too!):
1. Establish communication with your group home. Locate the contact information for the program coordinator and introduce yourself. Agree upon guidelines for how the program will work. The most important piece of the club we discussed was drop off procedures, locations and times.
2. Create a routine for communicating about upcoming birthdays. I email the program coordinator at the end of each month to find out about upcoming birthdays. She includes cake flavor requests, favorite colors, allergies, and their name so we can include it on the cakes when possible.
3. Gather your people. Find your tribe of people to form your birthday cake club. 10 people is a great number to start with, but if you have 5 members who are really passionate about the cause it would be totally doable. Think about recruiting people from church, a small group Bible study, a Girl/Boy scout troops, your book/wine club, and your family and friend circles.
4. Create a method for communicating with the Birthday Cake Club. We use Take Them a Meal and I update the meal schedule whenever I get an email with new birthdays from the program coordinator. I then send out an email to the Club notifying them of the additions to the schedule with a copy of the link. All sign-ups must be done through Take Them a Meal to make the process simpler on my end. In the information section for the meal sign up, I include all of the directions for how, when and where to drop off the cakes.
And that’s it! The majority of the work was on the front end setting up the program and now I send out two emails a month–one to the program coordinator and one to the club. I just emailed the updated sign up sheet this morning with two requests and they were filled within an hour. This project is seriously perfect. It’s low commitment. If you get a strong team together, you may make/buy a cake once or twice a year). It’s flexible and can be done on your own schedule. The cost to participate is relatively low. People can choose how involved they want to get–bake a custom cake or buy one at the grocery store. And it’s family friendly! This is an awesome project to do with your kids to teach them the importance of caring for others. You KNOW I’m all about that!
We have 16 people in our club and so far we’ve celebrated four birthdays with two more on the way. I love seeing the emails pop up in my inbox with the teen’s requests and smile at the special asks they make. I’m sure any kid living in a group home has limited decision making control, so knowing we’ve managed to give them a choice in something so important to them makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I know the church members involved who have already delivered a cake are enjoying this just as much as I do.
I hope this simple, practical gift reminds these kids who are going through a difficult time in their lives reminds them that they are loved. By their community but most importantly, by God.
You don’t need to be a professional baker to start this up or join the club. You just need to be willing to show up. This one small act could make a huge difference in the life of a kid celebrating their birthday without family.
That’s what being practically radical is all about. Making little, practical changes and actions to radically love someone who is often ignored or oppressed.
Let me know if you have any questions about the Birthday Cake Club. I would love to help you get started!