By Deb Silverthorn
For Goodness Cakes is for goodness’ sake indeed. Jaime Lehman, its founder, thought of the idea to provide birthday cakes to children in need after Lehman asked a friend what she could do for her birthday. That friend had been raised in an impoverished household under circumstances that didn’t allow for such extravagances; the cake Lehman baked for her became her first birthday cake ever.
The joy of giving warmed Lehman’s heart, creating the inspiration of For Goodness Cakes.
“The idea of giving a cake, and by doing so showing a child that someone ‘out there’ cares, came to me and 13 years later our team has baked over 20,000 items,” said Lehman, of Santa Monica, California. “Twenty-nine chapters across the country and we’re proud to have added Dallas this spring.
Lehman added, “We are absolutely one of the sweetest mitzvah projects out there.”
For Goodness Cakes spreads love, joy and frosting by matching volunteers who make and hand-deliver celebratory cakes to young people overcoming adversity. The organization became a beneficiary of tzedakah collected by students and faculty at Ann and Nate Levine Academy.
“The excitement of a birthday cake is something anyone can feel good about. Our students were so happy to know [that] their tzedakah was going to help other children,” said Jessica Reese-Wilner, a Levine Academy pre-K teacher who introduced For Goodness Cakes to the school’s families.
While living in Los Angeles six years ago, Reese-Wilner’s daughter Emma chose to support the agency as her mitzvah project. While she was baking with her mother and grandmother, Suzy Reese, by her side, they were helping others and creating memories amongst themselves.
Fast-forward, not realizing a Dallas chapter was being formed, Reese-Wilner collected Levine’s tzedakah and sent it on to For Goodness Cakes to support its efforts. Now, she’s hoping the students’ families, and the greater community too, might become part of the “Sprinkle Squad.”
Her hope indeed is spreading near and far as it was a Levine Academy newsletter post about the organization that Heidi Barishman was inspired by. A longtime Dallas resident and Temple Shalom member, who despite a move near Phoenix, Arizona, continues to work remotely for the congregation, signed on to her local chapter and found her inner Martha Stewart.
“It’s great knowing that the fun I’m having in the kitchen, and the wonderful creative outlet I have, is all about making a child’s special day even more special. As I’m working my way through requests, I’m learning a lot of baking techniques and execution,” said Barishman. She has created an Oreo cake with blue frosting and trucks, an Arizona Cardinals–themed cake and a Hot Wheels cake with cars “driving” over chocolate-frosted streets.
“There’s nothing much better than the fun of a birthday cake and that I get to do this for someone,” said Barishman.
How elaborate or ornate a cake is and the cost spent per order is up to the baker. Volunteers must be over the age of 18 (or bake alongside an adult) and must register for an online orientation which teaches about the nonprofit organization and provides food safety protocol.
Once orientation is complete, the volunteer is sent a task calendar which regularly updates with cake requests and specific details about the recipient, desired treat and delivery information. All sweets are delivered to the supporting agency and no contact between the child recipient and the baker is made.
“Bakers are welcome to sign on for as many cakes as they wish. One or two a month, one or two a quarter, whatever works for them,” said Christen Myers, For Goodness Cakes Dallas chapter leader. “I am very excited to be signing up volunteers and agencies to help us reach the children in need.”
Those not wanting to get behind the mixer and beaters can donate to the organization to help with supplies such as cake boxes, sprinkles and more for those in the kitchen.
For more information, to register as a volunteer or to make a donation, visit ForGoodnessCakes.org/dallas-tx.