Ninety students from Macconce Elementary School will receive a birthday wish of a cake, complete with candles, courtesy of the Elliotts of Chesterfield Township Wishes Granter.
The family recently provided the means to bake a birthday cake complete with all the trimmings for participants in the Feed the Bay Backpack program at Francois Macconce Elementary School, located at 6300 Church Road in Ira Township.
“I explained to our children that some people don’t have the money to go buy a birthday cake when it’s their birthday, or that of their child. Our kids were, they couldn’t imagine not having cake on a birthday,” Jessica Elliott said.
It all started with a family New Year’s resolution in January. Jessica and Chuck Elliott sat down with their Great Oaks Elementary School student sons, Gavin, 11, Grant, 8, and Grady, 6, to discuss pre-New Year’s goals.
“Giving back, doing something for the community, was one of them,” Jessica Elliott said.
While searching online for ideas to achieve giving back goals, Jessica Elliott came across photos of birthday cake kits. She posed this as an idea to help needy students to her family. Jessica Elliott said that although her sons were initially shocked to learn that there were children who could not afford the luxury of a birthday cake, when they began to understand the potential of needed, they were enthusiastic supporters of the project. The next question was how to raise funds to fund the donated birthday cake kit project.
“We just talked about it as a family. And I said we buy football fields to support other things, like baseball teams. I told the boys we could sell squares of football, with the winners getting half and the other half used to buy the kits,” Jessica Elliott said.
Jessica Elliott then reached out to her family and friends via social media, asking for help with Super Bowl Squares.
“The boys made a poster board and we sold the squares,” Jessica Elliott said.
She said 100 squares were sold at $10 each, with opportunities to win every quarter of the game. Jessica Elliott started selling squares on January 12 and the squares sold out in less than a week.
“The grand total was $1,000, we had $500 for the winners and the remaining $500 to buy the birthday kits, and we put some extra aside,” Jessica Elliott said.
Macconce Elementary School Office Manager Debra Kolomjec said that although Jessica Elliott initially contacted Feed the Bay Community Partnership Manager Darlene Nowaczyk, birthday cake kits are not usually offered through the Feed the Bay Backpack program. The Feed the Bay Backpack program provides needy Anchor Bay School District students with food on weekends, as the district’s free and reduced lunch program does not provide food on weekends.
Kolomjec was surprised to receive a request from Nowaczyk regarding her ability to facilitate a donation of birthday cake kits for Feed the Bay Backpack students, but was quick to accept the unusual donation.
“I thought it was a great idea to give it to them and let them use it however they want. So when I spoke to Jessica Elliott, their point of contact, they had about 50, and she went above and beyond and dropped off at least 40 more. Her family personally did so that each of the students could get one,” Kolomjec said.
She said about 90 students out of Macconce’s 270 residents participate in the Feed the Bay Backpack program.
“I think it’s a really kind and sweet gesture, something that a lot of families might not think of getting,” Kolomjec said.
The kits included candles, cake mix, frosting, cake pan, card, balloon and a small toy.
“I bought out the grocery store of cakes and candles,” Jessica Elliott said.
Jessica Elliott said her sons set up an assembly line in their home to help package what they call Operation Birthday Kit.
“The boys put in the boxes of cake mix, the containers of frosting, the birthday card, candles, a balloon and we put a toy like a Slinky in each kit. I was surprised how much they enjoyed putting them together, they were very excited about it,” Jessica Elliott said.
Jessica Elliott dropped off the first group of 50 birthday kits at the Macconce school office around the start of March, and a second group of 40 kits in mid-March. Kolomjec distributed the kits to students on the Macconce Feed the Bay list.
“The kids were thrilled, they thought it was the best thing ever,” Kolomjec said.
Nicole Tuttle is a freelance journalist for The Voice.