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A Kentucky organization that makes perfect birthday cakes for kids with imperfect lives

Sweet Blessings, based in Lexington, Kentucky, believes every child should feel special on his or her birthday. The organization bakes and decorates extraordinary birthday cakes for children who might need a treat made with love, just for them. Chelsea Gorham of Kentucky Educational Television has the story of what Sweet Blessings volunteers call “cake therapy.”

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Every child, of course, should be made to feel special on his or her birthday.

    That's the philosophy behind Sweet Blessings. It's a Lexington, Kentucky-based organization that bakes and decorates extraordinary birthday cakes for children who might need a special treat, made with love just for them.

    From Kentucky Educational Television, Chelsea Gorham has the story.

  • Ashley Gann:

    It seems so odd to say that we're changing lives with a cake, but it happens.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    Ashley Gann founded Sweet Blessings in 2011 after becoming inspired during a church service focused on inner-city outreach in Lexington, Kentucky. Gann decided to use her baking skills for a more meaningful purpose.

  • Ashley Gann:

    I was actually working at a professional bakery. And God just put it on my heart to spend more time making a difference and less time making a living.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    The nonprofit's mission is to create unique, elaborate, professional-standard birthday cakes, free of charge, for children living in poverty, with terminal illnesses, or with special needs in Central Kentucky.

  • Linda Johnson:

    A lot of these kids, there is nothing perfect in their lives. This needs to be.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    Linda Johnson has spent her Tuesdays perfecting cakes for three years, like the special cake Emily and Michael Banks received.

  • Child:

    For his birthday cake, he got a pink pony.

  • Child:

    Grass, a fence, flowers, and that's it.

  • Child:

    And a horse.

  • Child:

    And the brown on the horse.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    Every Tuesday, volunteers arrive to bake, ice, assemble, and decorate cakes for children who have been referred to Sweet Blessings by school counselors or social workers.

  • Woman:

    They become like family. They know what's going on in each other's lives. They're there to support one another, so there's all sorts of layers to what we do.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    Alex Nguyen is an engineering student at the university of Kentucky and volunteers through a service fraternity. He's found decorating cakes a welcome respite from his classwork.

  • Alex Nguyen:

    Something like this is a way to kind of relax but also be doing something for the community, so I really enjoy that aspect of it.

  • Linda Johnson:

    We call it cake therapy.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    The cakes are designed specifically for each child depending on their interests.

    The operation has expanded from making 163 cakes in 2011 to over 2,600 in 2018. The efforts of these volunteers have brought joy into the lives of kids like Cheyanne Kiskaden, a student at a local elementary.

  • Child:

    I feel really special, and I'm glad that you all got this for me. And I just love it.

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    Connie Malone has been with Sweet Blessings serving as a volunteer and on the board since 2011. She discovered Sweet Blessings shortly after retiring and understands the value of giving a child a special moment.

  • Connie Malone:

    The stories just that we hear just will break your heart, kids who were 10 or twelve years old, that this was their very first birthday cake. And then very early on, we made a birthday cake for a little girl who was in hospice and it was her last birthday cake.

    The purpose is to make that kid feel special and know that somebody loves them

  • Chelsea Gorham:

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Chelsea Gorham in Lexington, Kentucky.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I love that.

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