Photo courtesy of Allison Wachen
Birthdays are a time to be joyful and celebrate, traditionally with cake and candles. However, not everyone is given the privilege of having a birthday cake on such an occasion.
CHS sophomore Allison Wachen vowed to help combat this issue when she founded the Montgomery County chapter of Birthday Cakes 4 Free (BC4F).
“Before starting the chapter, I loved baking and cake-decorating and was baking more cakes than I could eat,” Wachen said. “I read about the national organization in a magazine and couldn’t imagine a birthday without cake and thought that the chapter was a great way to give back to the community.”
BC4F provides free birthday cakes for financially and socially disadvantaged children and senior citizens. Out of the 65 chapters across the U.S., the Montgomery County Chapter is the only one that bakes primarily for homeless shelters and other charities rather than taking individual orders.
According to sophomore and Chapter Treasurer Carolyn Youstra, BC4F allows students to be creative while making children and seniors feel appreciated on their birthdays.
The Montgomery County chapter began delivering cakes in September 2015. In an average month, BC4F bakes 15-20 cakes for five local charities: GreenTree shelter in Bethesda, Seneca Heights Apartments in Gaithersburg, Interfaith Works’ Children in Action Program in Rockville, Becky’s House in Wheaton and Community Vision Day Program in Silver Spring.
According to Wachen, the chapter has donated almost 100 cakes and aims to bake 500 by 2018.
Originally intended to be a club at CHS, the chapter was told by administration that the act of donating birthday cakes to charities was considered a liability and that the cakes violated the food policy at CHS.
“This was a big disappointment to the chapter, and I am so proud that we have 60 members despite not being allowed to be a CHS club,” Wachen said.
Because the BC4F chapter is not a school specific club, it is open to all students in Montgomery County, and students with lots or no baking experience. Joining the chapter provides an opportunity to give back to the community and meet new people.
According to junior Isabel Srour, her favorite part about BC4F is making others happy while having fun in the process.
BC4F meets once a month and cakes are delivered to Wachen at school the Friday before each monthly delivery weekend. Certain charities offer up to three SSL hours for donating a cake. Additionally, during the delivery weekend, BC4F hosts a social at a CHS student’s home where the baked cakes are iced and decorated.
“It’s important to remember that BC4F addresses a need that most people take for granted: receiving a birthday cake,” Wachen said. “Donating a birthday cake to a person who has never received one makes the recipient feel valued and creates a special memory on his or her birthday.”
For more information on how to get involved, students can visit www.birthdaycakes4freemocomd.com.