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Giving Back, One Meatball at a Time

I was out all of last week teaching Kids’ and Teen Cooking Camp.  Typically, I do a week of Kids’ Camp and a week of Teen Camp, but things are pretty busy right now, so I doubled up: kids in the morning, teens in the afternoon.  It’s the best cure for insomnia, teaching back to back camp sessions in the same day.  I have been teaching cooking camps for kids for 10 years now and I have it pretty much down to a science.  I am usually picking recipes the week before (OK, the night before), my kids are great at helping me get the kitchen “cooking camp ready” as we call it and then it all happens.  Kids come, we cook, we dance, we eat, we clean up and we repeat.  I love it!

This year, I am wearing a lot of different hats, Director of Marketing here, Miss Laurie in the Kitchen, United Way Campaign Chair, Vice Chair of the International Myeloma Foundation’s Comedy Gala, and mom to a daughter who is going to college in less than a month.  The crazy part, is that it’s all happening at the same time, like right now! I have two choices: 1.) Lose my mind, or 2.) Figure out how to wear as many of those hats at once and multi-task.

So here I am the Thursday before cooking camp starts, I have just given my campaign update at my United Way Board meeting, and I am talking to my friend about my goals for the campaign: the financial one (obviously), getting the entire county involved (because we serve the whole county), and getting more kids involved in giving back (because that is a passion of mine).  And it hit me – meatballs!

I have all these kids coming to cooking camp, and I make one heck of a meatball.  Let’s do a spaghetti dinner!  Let’s plan it, promote it, cook it and make it all happen in one week!  And that’s exactly what we did.   I set a goal of 200 meals.  People smiled at me like I was crazy and said, sure that’s a great goal but even if you do half of that, it would be wonderful.  After all, it’s only a week out and you’re doing it with kids.   A week was all we needed.  Those kids rolled meatballs, prepped veggies for salads, told everyone they knew, and the orders started rolling in.  We were at 155 meals on Tuesday and we stalled.  So we put it out there on social media – here’s our goal and here’s where we are.  And people responded. We served 268 meals, 75 pounds of pasta (and someone ordered just 48 meatballs – I make a great meatball) and we raised over $2,800.

The kids were so proud, and I was overjoyed at what our little, pop-up fundraiser did.  My kitchen still hasn’t completely recovered from the ordeal, but when I see the sauce stain on my back splash, it still makes me smile when I think about what 20+ kids and I accomplished in a week.

Photo by Teri Enciso, The Indiana Gazette

It makes me want to do it again.

Teri Enciso from the Indiana Gazette came the next day and snapped this photo for the local paper.  I am hoping that in a few years, her girls will be rolling meatballs in my kitchen.

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