Cupcakes, cinnamon buns, and cookies have been Calia Akehurst’s favorites to bake for A Better World Canada (ABW) charity programs. The 13-year-old from Delta, British Columbia, Canada, recently donated C$1,300 (about US$1,000) to ABW for her initiative that began in August 2019 and ended in June 2020.
Since she was in kindergarten, Calia has been raising funds for ABW. She first caught that interest from her sister Jessana. The latter raised funds with other students at Sunshine Hills Elementary School, which collected more than C$150,000 (about US$114,000) for ABW projects over a span of eight years. Calia was keen to help too, and was passionate about doing her best. Over four years, she raised the most at Sunshine Hills, including in Grade 5, the year she raised C$1,400 (about US$1,060).
“For the past four years, I tried to be the top fundraiser, so I could feel accomplished for helping people,” says Calia.
Calia’s mother, Angela, added it was “awesome to see” her youngest child be so zealous about fundraising while carrying on other interests such as skateboarding, drawing, and especially writing. “She was always very motivated,” says Angela.
Calia was moved to help after seeing photos of projects funded through her school and being inspired by ABW co-founder Eric Rajah’s passion as he spoke to students. Even after Sunshine Hills chose another charity this past year, Calia became even more committed.
It was a true labor of love. With the help of her mom, Calia typically baked 144 cupcakes for each sale. They also created sugar cookies shaped like fall leaves in celebration of autumn.
Calia’s father, John, helped to get her set up for selling the baked goods outside. They’d post a sign, pitch a tent with a chair, and display all of her sugar cookies and decorated cupcakes. Before COVID-19, most purchases were made by friends and parents at bake sales in the Akehursts’ driveway.
When the coronavirus struck hard in mid-March, Calia changed her marketing plan. Sales were boosted through Facebook, and whenever possible, she offered contactless pickup sales.
Calia sold about 17 dozen cupcakes and six dozen cinnamon buns during COVID lockdown.
“We’d spend all day making them. Sometimes I’d get bored, and my mom would continue for a little bit, and then I’d go back and help. So it took me and my mom one or two days to make the cupcakes (at one time). And then we iced them, and that took a while.”
The cinnamon buns, made from scratch and drizzled with cream cheese icing, seemed to be the customer favorites. During a fall fundraiser, Calia sold 26 dozen cinnamon buns. “We set a price, so people knew what to pay,” added Calia.
The C$1,300 will fund instruments for children with intellectual disabilities in Kenya. Calia said she would “love to go one day” to Kenya and see the impact of her fundraising. The Grade 8 student already has career ambitions.
“It’s a dream of mine to be an author, but if that doesn’t work out, … I’d really like to be a lawyer, like a human rights lawyer,” says Calia. And if it's anything like her dedication to supporting children, she'll achieve those dreams too.