AUGUST 24, 2017 – Hannah Finn never expected to get into the cake making business. Up until last spring, the 14-year-old spent most of her free time performing on the school gymnastics team, and playing with her two dogs, three cats, and fish. Then, her mother, Claudia Mintz, mentioned that it was time for her Hannah to begin her community service project, which Mintz believes fosters independent thinkers.
Hannah, who will be a sophomore at Andover High School when she returns next month, made a list of her strengths and passions, and remembered how much she liked to bake cookies and brownies and cupcakes. Hannah loves getting cakes on her birthday, and she was aware that there were homeless families and children at the Lazarus House shelter in Lawrence. “I put myself into their shoes and I knew they were in a difficult situation, and I decided I would try to make a cake for each child on their birthday,” said Hannah, who had her bat mitzvah two years ago, and plans to go to Israel next summer.
Hannah got in touch with the shelter, and they liked the idea of working together, and set some ground rules. While Hannah could deliver the cakes to the shelter, she could not meet any children because of privacy issues. To determine the best design, the kids would fill out a questionnaire about their interests. That led Hannah to think about also buying some birthday gifts for the kids.
“I had about $400 saved in babysitting money, and got started,” Hannah explained. Her mother brought her to the store where she loaded up on butter, sugar, flour, buttermilk, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, Crisco, vanilla extract, and confectionary sugar. She has made several cakes for kids – including a Barbie motif, and an ombre offering. And she’s also delivered lots of birthday toys, like fidget spinners and stuffed animals. She made a website, onewishproject.us, and as word spread of her project, Merrimack Valley residents started to donate to her birthday cake project, and another Lawrence shelter, Casa Nueva Vida, asked if she could make cakes for the children there.
Hannah’s now gearing up to make around 60 cakes this year, and she expects to draft some friends to help. Said Hannah, “My goal is to inspire friends to want to do it – not as work, but in order to reach out to as many kids as we can.”