EDMONTON – Do you bake up a storm during the holiday season? A local campaign is hoping you’ll make an extra batch or two for women and children escaping domestic violence. Elaine Wilson is behind the “Bake a Batch” campaign for Wings of Providence.
“Christmas holds a lot of negative memories for people when they are fleeing violence,” says Wilson.”So having sweet treats and home baking helps them create fresh, new memories as they are starting over.”
Wilson was aiming to collect at least 400 dozen — or just under 5000 — treats for the women’s shelter’s Christmas party. She posted the idea on Facebook a week ago, and the response has been overwhelming.
“Holy smokes! We are so excited about the response,” gushes Wilson on Thursday afternoon. “This has all gotten really big. We started with the Facebook event, that grew to the Facebook page, and now I am actually developing a website.
“We literally launched this a week ago. In one week, we have over 200 bakers, and we have, at this point, 465 dozen committed. Edmonton is amazing.”
Wilson says baking is a tangible way people can give back to those in need.
While this is Elaine’s first time leading the charge and reaching out for help via social media, this isn’t the first year for the endeavour.
Her sister Tracy came up with the idea in the early 1990s after learning about the needs of the shelter. For 24 years she spent most of her evenings and weekends in November and early December baking 200 dozen cookies, tarts, bars and other delicious treats. They would all wait in her freezer until delivery day in mid-December, when she would drop them off at the shelter.
“Baking for someone else is like a community: when you cook and eat together it’s a sense of family and togetherness, but particularly at the holidays,” explains Wilson as she stands in the kitchen of her south Edmonton home.
In recent years, knee and back problems have made it difficult for Tracy to do the work on her own, so Elaine, a professional cook, stepped up to help. At the same time, the Wings of Providence shelter has doubled in size, and so too has the need for holiday treats.
Wilson is asking donors to commit to giving two to three dozen batches of whatever they want to make.
While there are no specific nutritional concerns, bakers are asked to indicate on a label if their treats contain any nuts or peanuts. Wilson says about 25 bakers are also making gluten-free snacks, and others are putting together vegan options.
“I am surprised, overwhelmed, but then I shouldn’t be, because Edmonton has a big heart. Edmonton is known for giving. But for in one week to achieve a goal that we thought it would take six weeks to get to — pleasantly surprised and wonderfully shocked.”
The shelter says it is incredibly grateful for the community support. Some of the people who have signed up to donate are former victims of abuse who want to give back, and Wilson says this campaign is a reminder that not everyone experiences a merry Christmas.
“We’d just like people to really take a moment this time of year and look around, be grateful for what we have and where we’re at, and then just remember there’s a whole group of people we don’t even know about that are starting all over with a history of violence and domestic abuse. This this is a pretty small way we can help out.”
For the security and privacy of the women, baked treats can’t be dropped off directly at Wings of Providence. Instead, two or three open houses will be held on December 12th and 13th.
For Wilson, this endeavour is all about love.
“What it means to me is to be able to help my sister, who had this long-standing committment that she is passionate about, and seeing it evolve, grow, manifest, and now include the whole city to make a difference for the women and children.”
Those wanting to donate money to the shelter can do so on its website.