When Garrett Wiehler was 5 years old, he saw a TV commercial for the nonprofit Share Our Strength's Great American Bake Sale (GABS), which is raising money to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. He told his mom, Marie, that he wanted to host a bake sale with his best friend, Damon Halvis. "I asked why and he said, 'There are 13 hungry kids out there,'" Marie remembers. "It was actually 13 million. But if we all helped 13 children it really would make a difference."
After Marie and Lisa Halvis—mom to Damon and brother Jason—researched GABS, they set a date for their first bake sale, enlisted their sons' preschool friends to help bake, and raised nearly $800. This month they're holding their seventh sale. Garrett and Damon's responsibilities have grown as they've gotten older, and Jason joined in a few years ago. The boys promote the event by e-mail, word of mouth, and hanging up flyers. Marie and Lisa spend the days leading up to the sale making pies, mini breads, cookies, and cakes, while the boys mix dough and icing. Friends and neighbors contribute baked goods. On the day of the sale—officially named "The Garrett, Damon, and Jason Stop Hunger Bake Sale"—the Wiehler and Halvis families spend the day setting up, manning the tables, and educating customers.
"People know after donating or buying something that they didn't just buy from your everyday store, they helped save a life," says Jason. The money Garrett, Damon, and Jason have raised goes toward grants to local food programs in Maryland—Share Our Strength (SOS) estimates that $1 can help provide a hungry child with 10 healthy meals.
The trio has gained lessons in leadership and how to work as a group, and Marie and Lisa are especially proud that the boys have become more articulate about the cause. To help them better understand the mission, they go to SOS headquarters in Washington, D.C., after every sale to deliver their donation. "They always celebrate the boys, share what's happening with other bake sales, and show them a map to point out where the money is being used," Lisa says. "Jason said they can see that it's not just them—SOS has a huge support network of people working to end childhood hunger."
Garrett, Damon, and Jason plan to raise awareness as well as more money—so far their grand total is over $5,500—every year. "It makes you feel really good inside when you give that check to the people at SOS," says Garrett, "and then you know that's exactly how the people at food banks are going to feel when they receive those meals."
Originally published in the May 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.