Some people just have that extra special something—a sparkle, a light, a ripple of good energy—that instantly draws you in and makes you want to share a pot of coffee and a plate of yummy cookies, lingering until only crumbs and dregs remain. Gretchen Holt Witt is one of those people for me. I’ve worked with her in a professional capacity during my ten years at Cooking Light, but my interest became personal when her son Liam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma (learn more about it via the National Institutes of Health) in 2007. Gretchen and her husband, Larry, soon started a blog to document Liam’s battle, the good, bad, and ugly ups and downs.
We all seem to (unfortunately) know that panicky, sad feeling of wanting to help someone in such desperate need, but it’s easy to feel helpless when you’re time zones away and fighting such a nebulous enemy about which little is known. We write checks or add it to our growing prayer lists. And these things are good and helpful, but Gretchen knew it would take more: a call to action and more attention for this cruel—and unfortunately common—killer. And thus Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was born.
“I wanted to come up with something that was so easy anybody could do it anywhere—something so innocent and warm and friendly and inviting that people couldn’t turn away,” Gretchen says. Her efforts have been successful in raising buckets of funds for research and to find less toxic and more effective treatments. Most of it has been done through bake sales held nationwide--a lot of small efforts adding up to big results. “The awful twist is that we started this when Liam was cancer-free, and then we lost him,” Gretchen says. “So as much as I would like to curl up in a ball and cry, I have to do it for him.”
And it’s amazing what can be done—even without going too far out of your way or your comfort zone. Our staff held a fall bake sale on a busy football weekend and raised $1,200. Those who could bake did so beautifully, and those who could not (ahem…me) worked on logistics. Another impromptu charity drive last week added an easy $800 to the pot. The point is, there is something you can do, no matter how busy or stretched thin you feel at this time of year. If not a bake sale in your community (visit CKFC’s site to see how easy it is), then start with one or more of the methods below. Let’s share the love with Gretchen. And Liam. And the countless good cookies out there.
1. VOTE. This one’s super easy. Let’s help Gretchen win L’Oreal’s Women of Worth contest. In addition to recognizing this worthy woman, it’ll earn Cookies for Kids’ Cancer another $25,000 to help fund new treatments. Just enter your e-mail address here (they promise no spam or solicitations) to cast your vote.
2. GIFT. Stuff your stocking with love: The OXO Be a Good Cookie Spatula is just $7 and benefits CFKC. Check out Gretchen sporting one above. Find them on Amazon or at select Bed Bath & Beyond stores. Bonus points for pairing it with CFKC’s Best Bake Sale Cookbook, which is just $11 at Amazon.com.
3. EAT. Order a batch of cookies from CFKC, which are beautifully packaged and shipped fresh to your (or your gift recipient’s) door. In nine flavors (Liam’s Lemon Sugar gets my vote).
4. CLICK. Glad is partnering with CFKC to match donations up to $100,000 during November and December. To start, they’re donating $0.10 for every virtual cookie sent through Facebook. Visit facebook.com/glad to find out more.