Baking a difference

Part of the joy of baking is the smile and comfort that your creations bring to those who eat them.

It was that smile and comfort that inspired Tracy Quisenberry when she baked a birthday cake for her son, who had at the time been suffering from effects of his premature birth. Armed with her understanding of the pain that comes with having a sick child and the joy of seeing the smile his birthday cake brought to his face, Quisenberry started Icing Smiles, a non-profit organization that works with bakers to create birthday and occasion cakes for families who are affected by children suffering from critical illness.

Icing Smiles works with organizations including Ronald McDonald House to make sure that sick kids can have an escape, even if it's just from the monotony of an extended hospital stay. Right now, Icing Smiles is working with volunteers, both professionals and home bakers, in 43 states. "I've been so blown away by the baking community," Quisenberry says. "Their generosity is absolutely unbelievable." She says she receives daily emails from bakers who are interested in helping her cause.

The organiaztion is currently in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Grant, so Quisenberry has made a push on her Facebook fan page to encourage fans to vote for Icing Smiles. Fans can see daily reminders and updates on its standing for the grant, or they can sign up for a newsletter. You can also vote for Icing Smiles through their website.

As a non-profit, cakes aren't the only need that Icing Smiles has. "We have a financial need, as does any non-profit," she says. By winning the Pepsi Refresh Grant, the organization can get to more families across the country. Other needs they have include:

  • Cake Sponsorship - For $100, a donor can sponsor the cost of creating a birthday cake for a child.
  • Amateur Baking - Aside from the occasion cakes, Icing Smiles also provides baked treats for families at Ronald McDonald Houses.
  • Delivery Drivers - Help is needed if bakers can't fit the delivery into their schedules.
  • Connection to Families - The biggest problem is identifying the families who are in need of the service, so Icing Smiles relies on the medical community and word-of-mouth to find them.

To find out more about how you can help Icing Smiles, become a fan on Facebook or visit their website.