A Bake Sale for Japan: On Doing What We Can

One of the most difficult things about following the heartbreaking situation in Japan is wanting to do something but not knowing where to start. Sure, some of us have the means to write a check to a relief organization but some of us don't. Or we wish for some way to contribute that also touches on our sense of community and shared humanity. What can the food community and home cooks do in times like these? Is holding a bake sale enough?

Last year, when the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, The Kitchn ran a post on raising money for relief through hosting a bake sale. While we were a little surprised that there some controversy about this, basically people responded favorably to the idea.

One way to look at it is that a bake sale can really maximize your contribution. Say you only have $10 to give. You could just write a check for that amount or you could use it to buy ingredients for brownies. I bet you would get at least three times your investment after selling your brownies, maybe even more.

Here's more inspiration: When San Francisco Bay Area chef Samin Nosrot started her campaign to hold a bake sale for Haiti last year, she hoped to raise a few thousand dollars. Her final tally was $23,000, which is a significant donation and much, much more than she or several of the individuals who participated in the bake sale could have contributed on their own. This year she is organizing again for Japan. Her blog entry is a good starting point for organizing one of your own in your community.

But just as important as the mathematics of our donations is the fact that in the face of deep sadness and despair, we choose not to hide behind cynicism but to act from the heart. This takes courage and dedication. As I wrote last year in Weekend Meditation: The Bake Sale Response, in times like these we cannot afford hopeless and despair.

Are there any bake sales in your area? Are you thinking of starting one? Do you have other ideas for how The Kitchn readers can contribute? Please use the comment section below to share your information.

Update: Samin let me know that she is available to help you set up a bake sale wherever you live. She hopes to take this national! For more information and to contact her, visit her webpage. So far she has already organized seven locations in the Bay Area for April 2. Check out her page and be inspired!

(Image: David Berkowitz)

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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