With the plight of refugees in the national and local news, local kids are finding their own ways to help. One Millburn Middle School sixth grader, Brooke Snider, decided to hold a bake sale to raise money for the local Refugee Resettlement Project, the initiative of Jewish congregations Beth El, Sharey Tefilo-Israel and Oheb Shalom.
When Brooke’s mother, Eileen, read that the temples were helping to resettle a Syrian family in Maplewood, Brooke thought this would fit well with her own personal mission. And yes, she has a mission.
“I like helping people who don’t really have anywhere to start,” says Brooke. She has been looking, somewhat unsuccessfully, for opportunities for middle schoolers like herself to volunteer.
“I couldn’t find anything so I said, I’ll start one myself,” says Brooke, who is also creating a website or newsletter (still undecided) called Helping Hands NJ. “Once a month there will be a volunteer opportunity,” she explains. She hopes to focus on education needs.
The bake sale, held next to Enzzo’s Trattoria in Millburn, became her unofficial first event and she was a natural. Inspired by the Cupcake Wars, Brooke started experimenting in the kitchen about two years ago (when she was nine years old) and has created her own recipes. To prepare for the bake sale, she baked nonstop on Friday night, until 11 pm (she did clean up the kitchen). She made one of her original recipes, vanilla cupcakes.
She also asked her friends to help, specifically requesting a mix of nut-free, gluten-free and sugar-free desserts, with the goal of about 100 items. She was hoping to raise $200. She ended up bringing in $637, which she’ll be donating to the Resettlement Project.
In Maplewood this Saturday, brothers Noah (10) and Alex (7) Barkin, who attend Tuscan Elementary School, were also upset about the refugees and decided to hold a bake sale for the Refugee Project. “There were people coming from a faraway country with nothing and need some support,” says Noah. They’ve asked friends to donate baked goods, and they’re hoping to raise $300. They’re also asking community members to sign welcome cards for the two families. The bake sale will be held at Bagel Chateau between 9:00 and 10:30 on Saturday.
To donate to the Resettlement Project, please go to their GoFundMe page.