Stephanie Jacak loves using her talents in the kitchen to raise money for causes great and small. At the manufacturing company where she works, giving is second nature. She and coworker Sheila Holm hold bake sales two or three times a year at their Hartford, Wisconsin office and donate proceeds to the cause of the employees' choosing. They raise about $350 per bake sale.
Stephanie and Sheila buy their own ingredients and do the baking but also accept donated items from their coworkers. Stephanie says her three kids are supportive of the bake sales, too. "They all like to taste-test," she says.
The employees also participate in Hartford's Relay for Life, the main fund-raiser the American Cancer Society. The overnight event consists of participants walking laps around a track and coming together as a community in the fight against cancer. Last year, Stephanie's office team donated more than $2,500. But Relay participants aren't there just to raise money; they're also there to raise awareness of the need for funds and support in the fight against cancer.
"I think cancer is something that needs our attention," says Stephanie. "Seeing kids suffering with cancer breaks my heart."
Stephanie's office also comes together to help colleagues in need. They hold a special bake sale and even pass a donation box around the office. The money goes to coworkers' families to help pay for medical bills or other expenses.
Stephanie has always been there to help out, but like most people, she never expected to be the recipient of her coworkers' aid. When she and her family lost their home to a fire in 2009, her friends and coworkers decided it was time to give back to the giver with a huge bake sale.
Says Stephanie, "Sheila says she wishes she would have taken a picture, there were so many baked goods at that sale."
The donations made it possible for Stephanie to take time off to take care of things so her family could get back into their home.
"Pay it forward," she says, "because you never know when you are going to be on the receiving end."
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