A group of Upper St. Clair students have teamed up to help fight hunger.
Fort Couch Middle School seventh-graders Rachel Carson, Riya Gosai, Autumn Ma, Aarti Vishwakarma and Isabella Zhang joined Upper St. Clair High School freshman Eden Ma in raising nearly $500 to support Jubilee Soup Kitchen by making and selling homemade baked goods.
According to Thu Ma, mother of Autumn and Eden, the girls started with a simple challenge of seeing what they can achieve by putting down their electronics. While discussing their volunteer activities, Autumn shared her experience volunteering at Jubilee Soup Kitchen. They decided to further support the organization by raising funds through bake sales.
“They plan out every detail including what to bake, when to bake to get the freshest products, how much the products cost if they use organic eggs and butter versus using store brand, if they should add sprinkles or other decorations and will the additional cost to improve appearances justify the higher cost per product, etc.,” Thu Ma said. “They did trial baking to ensure they have high quality products.”
The girls, who had no prior baking experience, made and sold a variety of items including cupcakes, brownies, macaroons, cream puffs, cookies and chocolate dipped pretzels. They requested a donation of $1 per baked good, selling at school and in their neighborhoods.
“There were notable failures such as the hard-as-rock cinnamon buns and the flat-as-pancake meringue that did not make it to the public,” Thu Ma said.
“The $470 that they collected represents a lot of sweat equity.”
The donation was presented to May 26 Dan Stitt, a volunteer and member of the board of directors for Jubilee Soup Kitchen.
“This is only the initial project. The girls plan to work toward earning a Congressional Award for public service in the next three years,” Thu Ma said. “They are also talking about different business ventures to raise money for charity.”
She credits several Upper St. Clair teachers for supporting the students, including Michael Barringer, seventh-grade teacher; Stephen Levine, eighth-grade teacher; Jerry Malarkey, high school counselor; Jason O’Roark, gifted education teacher; and Josh Tobin, seventh-grade teacher.
Jubilee Soup Kitchen, located in Pittsburgh’s Lower Hill District, is an independent nonprofit organization, that provides a hot mid-day meal to approximately 125 guests in need, each day of the year.