Birthday Cakes for Free Makes Special Day Sweeter for Those in Need

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

MARION, Iowa-- A birthday is the one day a year designed to make someone feel special. But for some, their day, is less than memorable. Throwing a party or even just having a birthday cake can be a strain on a tight budget. A new non-profit organization in Marion, has volunteers cooking up sweet birthday memories.

The organization is called "Birthday Cakes for Free". It's a national non-profit that started in California in 2010 that has grown to more than 40 chapters across the country. This is the first in Iowa.

For Pat Vandersee, baking has been a longtime hobby. She started out making birthday cakes for her 8 grand kids and before long people were asking her to bake cakes for all occasions.

"My husband said, 'why are you giving away all these cakes?' So I thought if I'm going to give them away I'm going to find someone who really needs them," Vandersee said.

That's when she said she heard about Birthday Cakes for Free, an organization that provides free birthday cakes for kids and seniors who can't afford them. For Vandersee, it was the perfect recipe, so she started her own chapter.

"I just love helping somebody that can't afford to have a birthday cake, everybody deserves a good birthday," Vandersee added.

Vandersee and four other volunteers operate out of her basement that is outfitted with a second kitchen.

And the cakes they make there are as unique as the recipient.

"We ask what theme they'd like and it's up to the volunteer to take it from there," Vandersee said. Organizations such as Meals on Wheels, HACAP and Waypoint all benefit from the non-profit's baking.

"When the cake arrives it's just like anyone, it's a special cake just for you. The kids are so excited to be able to celebrate this special day for them," said Autumn Craft, Director of Resource Development at Waypoint.

Vandersee said the group is looking to expand. If you are interested in donating, volunteering, or if you are a local organization with clients you think could benefit from free birthday cakes the organization can be reached by email at
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