PHOENIX — Volunteer bakers dubbed the "Sprinkle Squad” are hungry to deliver joy to foster children and at-risk youth across the Valley.
The squad has whipped up creative and custom birthday cakes for thousands of kids in just the last few years.
The details and diligence that go into making these birthday cakes make their final destination that much sweeter.
“A lot of the kids say they’ve never received a cake before, they’ve never received a cake with their name on it before,” said Leslie Nilsen.
Nilsen founded the Arizona Chapter of For Goodness Cakes in 2019. Along with nearly 500 volunteer bakers, they’ve delivered more than 2,000 custom cakes to at-risk youth and foster children around the state.
“Children can request what they want, we have 62 agencies requesting cakes from us,” said Nilsen.
“I probably spent almost three hours on this clown face,” said volunteer Jodi Shaw with a laugh.
Shaw is putting the finishing touches on an “IT” inspired cake destined for a young lady named Melissa at Genesis City, an agency serving disadvantaged teens since 1991.
“She shares her birthday with her sister, hers is in September, and her sister's is near Halloween, and she bonded with her sister watching horror movies,” said Nilsen regarding Melissa’s cake request.
Hence the frightening face of Pennywise is now the focal point of this latest creation.
“She wanted blood splatter, so you get blood,” said Shaw pointing to the red frosting dripping down the side of the cake.
While the kiddos get what they want, so do the amateur bakers. Rewarded by a feeling of making a real difference but sometimes getting the healing they need as well.
“In our family, you had dessert first on your birthday, that’s on my dad's gravestone, to eat dessert first because life is short,” said Shaw through tears.
Since his passing, baking these cakes has provided a new connection with his memory.
“I just really love doing this, it’s special for me and I just hope they feel special and feel seen and know that they matter,” said Shaw.
“I haven’t smiled in a long time, thank you for making me happy, much love Vanessa,” said Nilsen reading a card she recently received from one of the children.
While the thank cards say a lot, the smiles seen on the faces of those getting the cakes speaks volumes.
“We need more volunteer bakers, there are just so many children in the system, it’s hard to wrap your head around the numbers, and we want to make sure they all know we care,” said Nilsen.
She says you don’t need to be an expert baker just have a big heart and a little time.
She says as long as there’s a sweet tooth to be satisfied for kids in the Valley, you can bet the Sprinkle Squad will continue spreading the love and frosting anywhere they can.