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Cupcakes for Haiti

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a year or so might remember that on the last day of school last June, I spent the day cooking Haitian food with my Grade 6 class, to end their unit about Haitian culture and cuisine. Whilst it seemed a little chaotic on the day, I was so impressed with how well the boys responded to the Haitian unit in general and the cooking in particular that I decided to make this unit bigger and better this year.

Again, we wrote letters to the children of St Vincent’s School and this year we received responses. We were all totally amazed when one day in early May, a large envelope arrived containing letters for every boy in Grade 6 (and then some – and some boys received more than one!). Having prepared the boys for the possibility that we might not get replies to their carefully crafted letters, this was indeed, a most delightful surprise!

Earlier in term 2, the boys and I had planned on a bake sale to raise funds to send to St Vincent’s School and I had the idea to make it a “cupcake only” bake sale, using recipes from Susana Molinolo’s “Cupcakes for Haiti” recipe book.  Molinolo  felt compelled to do something help the thousands of Haitians who lost everything as a result of the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation on January 12, 2010.  A little over a week later, on January 23rd, Molinolo  hosted a cupcake sale on the front lawn of her home in the Beaches.  More than 30 people contributed cupcakes to the event, which raised more than $11,000 in just four hours, helped along by the the generosity of a small group of bicycle-riding philanthropists called “Les Domestiques” who donated $5,000.  The funds were matched by the Canadian International Development Agency, and were directed towards Doctors Without Borders (DWB)/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada as well as FINCA Canada, the international micro-finance charity that provides loans to small business owners around the globe.  But the bake sale turned into an ongoing project and eight months later, Molinolo launched the Cupcakes for Haiti cookbook, featuring a forward by celebrity chef Lynn Crawford. (thanks to this article in The Star for some of the background information).

I purchased the book and let the boys choose the recipes they would like to make, way back in February.

Then, I fell ill and the last part of Term 2 was a write off. We managed the cooking portion of the unit and finished all the work but never got to the bake sale. Then, of course, just before the boys were going on March Break, the earthquake struck Japan and fundraising in Term 3 has definitely focussed on the relief efforts there. I felt awkward suggesting a bake sale for Haiti, even though, as we all know, the earthquake may be long over but the funds to rebuild and recover will be needed for years to come.  When the letters arrived in May, I decided we write a class, as opposed to individual, response to them (since time is running out this term!) and we would, indeed, hold the bake sale, on a very small scale (just one class contributing, just cupcakes, and whatever we raised would be appreciated), and send off the cheque to St Vincent’s with the letter.

So last week I copied the recipes out for the boys and sent them home. The boys were So excited!

Friday morning dawned bright and sunny but not too hot – the perfect day for a bake sale.  I ventured into the Grade 6 classroom to check out the cupcakes. And I was speechless.  So overwhelmed with what the boys had brought in. So impressed and so proud!  Apart from the “Dufflet’s Devil’s Espresso Cupcakes” pictured at the top of the post (the boy’s mum asked him why he picked that recipe and he said “Who doesn’t like espresso?”), we had quite the selection…

Chocolate cupcakes.

Very vanilla cupcakes.

Smarties cupcakes.

Magic rainbow marshmallow cupcakes.

Lemon and orange cupcakes.

Brownie heart cupcakes.

Skor fudge brownies.

Lemon-coconut cupcakes with faux lemon curd.  There were actually two batches of these – one unfrosted and more like muffins, but somehow I don’t seem to have a picture of those :(

Gourmet Jelly belly cupcakes.

Gluten-free Smarties cupcakes (with a deviation!)

Gourmet Jelly Belly cupcakes.

Brownie heart cupcakes.

Smarties cupcakes.

Very vanilla cupcakes (check out that piping work!)

Snowman cupcakes (a whole family effort, fittingly, brought into school in a Valpolicella box!)

Chocolate cupcakes.

And a box of store-bought because sometimes, despite best laid plans, you just can’t do everything (also unpictured). But that’s ok, the sentiment was definitely there.

And the result?

Well it was madness. In the best possible way.  I literally have ONE picture from before the sale itself because we were so busy!  Sometimes, you just have to put the camera down and be in the moment.

Over $300, a superb effort from one class of boys.  We also had no Senior School boys around that day (they are doing exams) and the Grade 8s away in Québec City so considering we were something like 300 less students than would normally be available to pester sell to, I think we did pretty well. Of course this meant that there were a whole lotta sugared up little guys that day. But it’s ok. It was Friday. It’s June!

It’s always rewarding as a teacher to see your classes come together and work towards a common goal.  But so much more rewarding in June when we’re all a little bit “done” – sometimes as teachers, we’re too wrapped up in report cards and grading to see beyond the end of year craziness and remember the big picture.  Watching these boys so proud of their creations and working so hard to sell them made me step back and realise how far they have come in the four years I have been teaching many of them.  Sometimes, the most important learning doesn’t take place in the classroom.

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38 Responses to Cupcakes for Haiti

  1. Belinda @zomppa June 7, 2011 at 05:40 #

    How simply wonderful. Your boys are going to become fine young men (who also know how to bake)! They don’t realize how fortunate they are!

  2. The Mistress of Spices June 7, 2011 at 05:47 #

    You’re so wonderful to have done something like this, Mardi! What a way to give your students an opportunity to engage with the world and contribute to people in need. I wish I’d had more teachers like you when I was in school! All the cupcakes look amazing…and wow $300…that is definitely something to be proud of!

  3. Lora June 7, 2011 at 06:06 #

    This post made my day, probably my week. Those cupcakes were so cute and baked with such consciousness. What a beautiful direction you are setting those boys off in. Hats off!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 7, 2011 at 06:09 #

      Thanks Lora (and Mistress of Spice) but the main impetus for this came from the boys. I planted the seed but they remembered it months later and knew that St Vincent’s really needs the funds still (and will for years to come) and basically wouldn’t let me forget about it. In the nicest possibly way. Sometimes events like this end up being a whole lot of work for the teacher but this time, all I had to do was show up and sell (oh, and eat!) ;-)

  4. Adriana June 7, 2011 at 06:12 #

    You do not only reach out to the kids, but to the parents. Only one batch of store-bought cupcakes speaks heaps of the levels of engagement of the families in the school community. Those little boys are very inspiring!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 7, 2011 at 06:42 #

      And I would have been ok with more store-bought too – sometimes, you know, life does get in the way, especially in June. The parents of these boys have been very supportive of my Haitian unit for which I am extremely grateful.

  5. Emily June 7, 2011 at 07:46 #

    Love it! Great work!

  6. Mr. Neil June 7, 2011 at 08:32 #

    I’m sorry Mr. Neil forgot to send a packet of loonies and twonies to work with you…those look like scrumptuous efforts.

    Congrats to all the boys!

  7. Vicki @ WITK June 7, 2011 at 08:45 #

    You and the boys did such an amazing job, I can’t believe all of the different types of cupcakes they brought! Congratulations on a well done fundraiser.

  8. GigiSxm June 7, 2011 at 09:16 #

    I really enjoyed this blog post. I’m happy you and your class haven’t forgotten the Haitian people. Your post made me tear up.
    Haiti is a stones throw from where i live, I have several coworkers who are from the island nation of Haiti. Thank you for this and for teaching your class to be exemplary world citizens

  9. K A B L O O E Y June 7, 2011 at 09:27 #

    What a terrific story. I’m glad you gave us the whole history so we could appreciate all the boys have done and learned. And I agree that getting the parents on board really broadens the scope of what you and they’ve accomplished. Good for them! And now I’m going to eat a virtual Dufflet’s Devil’s Espresso Cupcake, because I do indeed love espresso.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite June 19, 2011 at 19:25 #

      Yes this is a really great addition to the curriculum (the Haiti unit) and I am lucky my school lets me work on things like this!

  10. Susana June 7, 2011 at 09:55 #

    What a great teacher you are. So dedicated, focused, creative, what a gift you are giving these children and their families. Awesome project Mardi!!!!!

  11. Paula June 7, 2011 at 10:22 #

    I can imagine how very proud you were to sit down and write this post. Your students (and their families) are to be commended for their ongoing and *sweet* efforts in continuing to help the people of Haiti. Having received letters from the students at St. Vincents’ truly personalizes the Haitian earthquake for your boys and brings home the fact that we are all a community without borders or barriers. Best wishes for a wonderful summer for all of you.

  12. penny aka jeroxie June 7, 2011 at 10:22 #

    Super cool. The boys are awesome and good on them. Plus you did a fantastic job with them

  13. Nikki @ The Tolerant Vegan June 7, 2011 at 13:21 #

    Fantastic job! This warms my heart :)

  14. Liz June 7, 2011 at 18:56 #

    Oh, I LOVE that you did this! So many things the boys learned: history, math…and best of all compassion. You’re the best, Mardi!

  15. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts June 7, 2011 at 23:17 #

    What a great things for the kids! This is something they can remember and take with them always! What a great selection of cupcakes you ended up with!

  16. Brian @ A Thought For Food June 8, 2011 at 11:11 #

    All of those cupcakes look wonderful. They really did a fantastic job! You must be so proud!

  17. Ethan June 8, 2011 at 11:17 #

    Awesome story and as exciting for the kids to be out of the classroom on a Friday as it is for you :)
    There were some decadent looking sweets there, Skor brownies, yes please!

  18. Kate@Diethood June 8, 2011 at 13:22 #

    WOW! Goosebumps! This is fantastic!

  19. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 8, 2011 at 15:14 #

    What a great project for your students… And, they did an amazing job!

  20. Dan June 8, 2011 at 15:58 #

    Excellent work! I find bake sales are great fundraisers, and you fit it into the curriculum as well.

    At work we’re having a charity bake sale, but unfortunately, one of the recipients of the money is for the our national diabetes foundation.

  21. The Travel Chica June 8, 2011 at 16:59 #

    Great story!

    By the way, I just ate a huge meal yet the photos in this post are making me hungry again.

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