After the massive earthquake hit Haiti in early January, the world reacted. Aid poured into the struggling country from every corner, as relief workers fought to rescue survivors and distribute supplies to the thousands now in need. From large scale text-message donation services to the highly-successful Hope for Haiti Now telethon, huge efforts have been made to raise money. Restaurants have held benefit dinners, stores have started to collect donations, and performers have released benefit songs.
Chicagoans are among the many contributing to the aid effort. While not all of the fundraisers are on the national level, each endeavor can be an effective way to raise money for the Caribbean country, as a group of local Yelpers proved this past Saturday, January 25th. They took a small idea, a bake sale, and turned it into a big way to raise money for Haiti.
As event coordinator Tina Bennett said, “It was a very organic process. I’m a parent, and so the idea of a bake sale to raise money seemed like a very natural one. I know how to bake, I know how to have a bake sale. So it seemed easy and I just figured why don’t I just ask a bunch of businesses that were my favorite businesses to help and basically everybody just said yes and it all came together very quickly and easily, kind of amazingly.”
Bennett, with the the help of volunteer organizer Cassie David, was able to enlist over 30 volunteers and garner donations from seven Chicago area bakeries for the Yelp sponsored event, including Angel Food Bakery, Luscious Layers Bakery and Bleeding Heart Bakery. Hyde Park restaurant Medici on 57th donated its upstairs space, where the sale took place.Plates of cookies, cupcakes and brownies lined long tables, as volunteers clad in Yelp’s signature red shirts sliced into rich chocolate cakes and bagged cookies. One volunteer even sold doggie treats. Attendees were asked to purchase tickets, which they then traded with the volunteers for baked goods.
“It was all over twitter and people were really excited about it,” said attendee, Lincoln Square resident Page Worthy. “With Yelpers, usually it’s just all about drinking and getting free stuff, but when it really matters they’ll come out and support a cause.”
Contributors and volunteers came from all areas of Chicago for many reasons. Some were enticed by the big name bakeries, others wanted to make a donation or help aid efforts for Haiti. By mid afternoon, many of the tables and platters were bare. After several hours and pounds of sugar, flour and butter, Baking for Haiti raised over $1500. These proceeds will go directly to both Doctors without Borders and Oxfam.
“It’s pretty amazing how this has come together,” David said. “I think that this has been really great because it shows that you just have to have this little idea and get a community of people behind you and you can do it.”