No matter how young or how old, everyone can make a difference. So says Lily Bussel, 17, of Eugene, Oregon. Knowing she wanted to help others, she combined her love of cupcakes with fund-raising, and voila! Henry D. Sheldon High School had its own Cupcake Club.
The idea of giving to others was instilled in Lily at an early age.
"When I was younger, I volunteered at a local soup kitchen," Lily says. "I remember seeing the men's and women's faces light up when I handed them a dinner tray. I received a great sense of satisfaction from that."
Like many other foodies, Lily noticed the increasing popularity of cupcakes and wondered how she could combine her love of baking with the cupcake craze and her desire to help people in her community. The idea for the Cupcake Club was born.
"I met with a vice principal at my high school and felt discouraged after learning about the numerous obstacles I would face in order to have the club approved, but I was determined," she explains.
"The majority of students at my school are middle to upper class, and some are unaware of the situation of those less fortunate. Through the Cupcake Club, I hoped to raise awareness among teens about social problems. I also wanted to illustrate the importance of benefiting local charities."
Today, the year-old Cupcake Club has about 35 members who meet, bake and sell their sweet treats after school once a week. Within its first six months, the club raised $900 for local charities.
Club members each research local charities they would like to support. They plead their case to other clubbers, who then vote to select the charity. Past recipients of cupcake funds have included the local animal shelter; a charity that distributes food to the homeless; Birth to Three, a program that supports parents with young children; Relief Nursery, which offers support for at-risk children; and Career Appointed Special Advocates, which provides funding for volunteers who represent children living in foster care.
Today, the Cupcake Club is one of the most popular at Sheldon High.
"Students always look forward to cupcake day," says Lily. "Some students just come to see what flavors we have or to admire the designs on the cupcakes."
She has some good advice for other teens who might want to follow in her footsteps:
"Find something you love to do, and use that skill or hobby to benefit others," she advises. "Many obstacles will arise, but you have to be flexible. Remain optimistic, be persistent and be willing to compromise in order to attain your goal."
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