NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Do Something

Bake. Or be baked for.

InKind Baking is always looking for more pastry-proficient volunteers. Sign up here if you want to join the baking army.

You can donated baking supplies—ingredients and the like—by contacting the group here.

Or, you can request baked goods for yourself, a needy friend or an organization here.

Connect WITH OUR SOCIAL ACTION TEAM



Citizen of the Week: InKind Baking Project

Center City’s Molly Lester says you don’t have to march to be civically engaged. You can bake

Center City’s Molly Lester says you don’t have to march to be civically engaged. You can bake

in kind baking project, molly lesterTwo years ago, Molly Lester read an article online about an 8-year-old Philadelphia boy who was living in a homeless shelter and had never had a birthday cake.

“It broke my heart,” she says. “I decided to do something.”

Lester, a 30-year-old architectural historian from Washington Square West, anonymously baked the boy a cake, and dropped it off at the shelter. She didn’t even wait to see his response; just knowing he was going to have a sweeter birthday was enough gratification for her.

But she didn’t want to stop there. Over the next two years, she baked and donated cakes, cookies, cupcakes and brownies to several organizations in need, finding them through cold emails she’d send out after work. “I baked for the Salvation Army a couple years ago,” she notes, “and got a lot of word-of-mouth contact through them.” (Lester’s speciality is cookies and cupcakes, she says, “mostly because they’re the ones I like to consume.”)

Then, last November happened. And Lester’s informal bake-a-thon took on more meaning—as a way to channel her grief over the presidential election results. In January, when President Trump signed executive orders banning refugees from certain Islamic countries, Lester baked for several refugee organizations, and dropped them off as a surprise. “Baking for me, just the act of it, relieves stress and is calming,” she says. “The fact that it’s physically calming and can impact people meaningfully is the catharsis part of it.”

Afterward, Lester asked to see if anyone wanted to join her—and so was launched the InKind Baking Project, a group effort to use dessert as a way of building community and peace. Bakers sign up to be a part of the InKind listserv, which Lester uses to circulate the requests for baked goods submitted through outreach on Facebook and emails to different refugee organizations. Individuals can claim requests, make the goods at home, then drop them off for recipients to enjoy.

So far, members of the project have baked for organizations that serve refugees, immigrants and the homeless—about 205 people total.

So far, members of the project have baked for organizations that serve refugees, immigrants and the homeless—about 205 people total, Lester says.

“When we leave something, we leave a little message to show that there’s a coalition of individuals behind it,” she says. “I don’t mind that it’s a little bit of an anonymous thing at this point. It’s not about me or the individual bakers.”

That the timing of the project was directly related to Trump’s actions against Muslims was no accident: For Lester, the executive order was an affront to her Christian faith.

“I would like this to be a gesture of everything my faith teaches me to do as far as welcoming the stranger,” she says. “As far as the community goes, I want it to be a different message of welcome and inclusion to people who are being excluded, oppressed and marginalized.”

There are currently 35 people on the InKind listserv, a number that Lester hopes will continue to grow.

“We all bake individually in our own homes for now,” she says. “But someday I foresee a group baking event of some kind.”

Header photo: In Kind Baking Project founder Molly Lester and Neeta McCulloc. All images by Sabina Louise Pierce

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

Recent Tweets
@THEPHILACITIZEN

@thephilacitizen @@thephilacitizen
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Namaste outside tonight with @tim_Roots2Rise 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.,$10 suggested contribution, Lemon Hill.… https://t.co/TRok5jx7yj 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
The Citizen's @HP3potential on education reform—measuring schools more broadly & fixing them more locally.… https://t.co/QJpmnIdPrb 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
“We need to maybe not teach our students to divorce themselves from their humanness. Human connection is essential.” https://t.co/8yOzGn2tYy 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
In response to the administration's executive orders "a cadre of governors and attorneys general are fighting back." https://t.co/lW0bSWDQmB 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
After a walk-back on LGBTQ rights this morning, people like @phillygaylawyer won't "leave the moment it gets real". https://t.co/diV1SeH4R1 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
An arts program in empathy at #Philly's Jefferson University brings students and patients with dementia together.… https://t.co/lQUiMEWeyv 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
After Rush Limbaugh's remarks today on the President's tweets could the right-wing media be the next target? https://t.co/7p5U0x8Miq 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
"As @JoshShapiroPA warns, someone has to step up if Congress isn’t standing up to a lawless presidency." https://t.co/WfRKSQm0JN 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Rock out with @GirlsRockPhilly this Sun, 7-30, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., free for youth under 18, $8 – $15 for adults.… https://t.co/y0Gqdx2ioR 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Artist Michael Rakowitz kicks off Radio Silence this Sat, July 29, 6 – 9 p.m., free, Independence Hall… https://t.co/KLfHwYed9I 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
CineSPEAK is a Philly-based non-profit that tackles diversity (or the lack-thereof) in film, inspired by @SpikeLee.… https://t.co/bSlv4g2abL 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Help hydrate the homeless with @CaresPhila Saturday, July 29, free, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Philadelphia City Hall.… https://t.co/EPVKC1L54p 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Guion Bluford, Jr. to be presented with a city citation from @PhillyMayor at 2pm today. https://t.co/tzKlIsskO9 https://t.co/X6NvVUSoj0 
The Citizen
@thephilacitizen
Support music in Philadelphia’s public schools. Register in advance. Thurs, July 27, 6 – 8 p.m., free @WeWork @P440 https://t.co/hzkM08xlo3 

LOAD MORE

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story