Cookies for kindness

Sycamore community uses baking to give back

   In these unprecedented times, we are all searching for sparks of happiness in our day to day lives. However, for those struggling to get by in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, finding these moments of glee can be hard to come by.


   Luckily for the Sycamore community, this is where Sycamore Bridges, in partnership with Operation Give Back (OGB), have come to the rescue by providing weekly bags of groceries to families in need, easing some of the uncertainty felt at this time.


   “Knowing that many families would be impacted financially by the pandemic, we decided to take our food pantry outside the walls of OGB… As a result, OGB and Sycamore Bridges have partnered to deliver supplemental food bags to families in need every Monday, hoping to offset the financial challenges that many families are now facing,” said Leanne Berke, the Program Director at OGB.


   According to Berke, a lot goes into assembling the 320 bags that they deliver on a weekly basis. Each week prior to delivery day, they begin by shopping for non-perishable food items to put in each bag. Berke says that they try to keep all products “kid-friendly” and include some treats such as fruit snacks in addition to the pantry staples. Once the shopping phase is complete, a small team assembles the bags, and then they are delivered at the school meal stops on Mondays.


   While many of the items included in the bags are courtesy of monetary donations or partnerships with local organizations such as the Freestore Foodbank, they have also recently received donations from Tyson and the American Foods Group. However, for their sixth week of grocery bags, OGB and Sycamore Bridges reached out to the community for a little something special: homemade cookies.


   “Our hope is that these cookies make our food bag feel like a gift from a neighbor rather than a hand out from an organization,” Berke said.


   Sycamore Bridges posted the request for cookies on April 19, asking for bags with 6-8 cookies each. The need was filled quickly by the community, which will allow all of the bags handed out tomorrow, April 27, to contain a homemade gift.


   “So many people have been reaching out to OGB and Sycamore Bridges, seeking ways to help… The cookies are a great way to engage the community in a means of volunteering that is impactful, yet safe,” Berke said. 


   With a passion for baking myself, I decided to take part in the cookie baking festivities. I am very fortunate that both of my parents are still getting paid during this time, allowing us to have certain financial stability. I felt that in giving back, I could pass some of that feeling of certainty along; even if it is just through a chocolate chip cookie.


   Grace Deppert, 12, president of OGB club, shares a similar sentiment. Mostly, she believes that giving back allows us to “stay connected” and “keep that relationship growing” with those in need even when we cannot be with them, such as the kids she tutors through OGB.


   Baking not your cup of tea? No worries, there are still ways in which you can support Sycamore Bridges and OGB. Berke encourages anyone interested in helping to visit their websites: OGB and Neighborhood Bridges


   As we continue to tread through these uncertain times, remember that you can still make a difference in somebody else’s day. Whether it be baking cookies or just waving to a neighbor across the street, every little action matters. United together, we will get through this—one cookie at a time.