An eye-opening experience on a school break trip has inspired Monica Manglani ’13 to spend her other breaks from school raising funds to help children.
In June, Manglani (Woodbury, N.Y.) went to the Dominican Republic on an Alternative School Break trip to work with a group called Orphanage Outreach.
During her week there working with children who live in poverty, Manglani learned that only 50 percent of Dominican children make it past the fifth grade, and she saw firsthand how difficult their living conditions are.
“The lack of resources made me realize the privileges that I have on a daily basis,” says Manglani, a neuroscience major. “Until this trip, I can say with confidence I did not realize the unimaginable daily hurdles of those around me. There was a child whose parents tried to give him away because they thought we could take care of him. I left the orphanage really upset, hoping I could do more…so I did.”
The experience helped Manglani realize that school break trips are meant to have a lasting effect beyond the one week of service. She started thinking about ways she could help improve the lives of children like the ones she met in the Dominican Republic.
A week after she returned from the trip, Manglani made a four-tier chocolate cake for her cousin’s bridal shower. “The family loved it and jokingly said that I should start a cake business,” she says.
And there was the answer: She decided to use her talent for baking to help make the world a better place for children. Her new “Cakes for a Cause” project uses profits from baked goods to sponsor underprivileged children. During her summer and winter breaks from college classes, Manglani will be baking cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other treats to fill orders placed on her web site, www.seasonalcakes.webs.com. Her project was nominated for a $5,000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.
Manglani’s recipes are vegan (lacto-vegetarian upon request). Whenever possible, she buys ingredients from local farmers markets and uses organic products.
By supporting Cakes for a Cause, Manglani’s customers help provide children with educational opportunities, clean water, and basic health care, and also help the child’s community, providing benefits like new or restored water wells, new or renovated schools and health clinics, and improved agricultural training.
The project has kept her busy in the kitchen. She does all the baking, calling on friends to lend a hand when she gets particularly busy.
During the three weeks that she filled orders this summer, Manglani raised more than $1,000, enough to sponsor a boy named Edel who lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through an organization called World Vision. Manglani says she hopes to continue to support Edel so he can get an education and become successful in life.
So far, Manglani has promoted Cakes for a Cause through Facebook and word-of-mouth by her friends.
“My goal is not to just sponsor children but to create active citizens. Every person that buys a cake will receive email updates on how the child that they helped sponsor is doing. It’s empowering to know that you made a difference that will last a lifetime. I hope to empower people to make the global community part of their lifestyle choices,” she says.