By Lynne Willis
The above headline is the motto and mission of Sweet Blessings, a non-profit organization in Central Kentucky that believes all children deserve to feel special and loved – especially on their birthday.
Founded in 2011 by Ashley Boyd Gann of Frankfort, Sweet Blessings provides children 5-14 years old living in poverty or with a life-threatening illness with a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable birthday cake.
Although Gann earned a graduate degree from the University of South Carolina and had a successful career in public health, she decided “to spend more time making a difference and less time making a living.”
Most recipients of Sweet Blessings live in poverty, Gann said.
As a mother of two, she has a heart for children and feels called to touch their lives.
“For these children, receiving a ‘Cake Boss’ style birthday cake gives a sense of joy and being valued that they will never forget,” she said.
The cakes are made, decorated and delivered by volunteers and funded by donations.
Each cake costs $50 to make. The organization is in need of monetary donations.
Each week, Gann and a couple dozen volunteers work together to design unique cakes that can’t be found at local grocery stores.
Another 100 people volunteer regularly, but not every week.
Alpha Phi Omega (community service fraternity), Alpha Omicron Pi and Kappa Kappa Gamma members volunteer many hours as well.
Life groups and businesses often volunteer as a group service project.
Gann says her core group of volunteers “have become like family.
“Whether it be helping another volunteer figure out how to execute a particular cake design for their grandchild or reaching out to them as they undergo chemotherapy, our volunteers are there for one another.”
Some of Sweet Blessings cakes feature favorite sports teams or superheroes. Others depict hobbies like ballet or Disney princesses.
Each one is created with a specific child in mind.
Regardless of the theme, all cakes are filled with good wishes.
“Each child is prayed for by one of the volunteers and receives a birthday card with a Bible verse,” Gann said.
Her ministry is about more than just cakes.
“It’s about helping a child feel special and loved. We just happen to do it through cake,” she said.
Sweet Blessings has made amazing birthday cakes for thousands of area children.
Serving 163 children in 2011 and already more than 1,000 in 2015, Gann believes that’s “proof that Sweet Blessings is what God has called me to do.”
Sweet Blessings takes referrals from churches, schools and social service agencies.
Once a cake is created, the Sweet Blessings team delivers it to the person who made the referral.
Recipients over the years include a cross section of children in need such as:
• Siblings of a homeless family of 10;
• An ill child whose goal was to live to her next birthday;
• A child living in a motel because her home was infested with bed bugs;
• A boy living in a youth shelter;
• Two children whose parent passed away shortly before their birthdays;
• A child who was in the hospital at the time of his birthday and had been there for two months;
• A girl who had been collecting aluminum cans to cash in and buy her own birthday cake;
• A child living in a half-way house with his parent and many homeless children.
A thank you note from a teacher says it all when it comes to the impact Sweet Blessings is making on the lives of children.
“Thank you for making cakes for children. I’m sure you already know, but [what you do] leaves a profound and lasting impression of love on all of the children who receive your beautiful cakes.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Info: To partner with Sweet Blessings by sponsoring a cake for a child, go to www.sweetblessingscakes.org or contact Ashley at Ashley@sweetblessingscakes.org.