Beacon Fundraisers Raise Over $13,000 for Refugees Settling in Hudson Valley, and In Mountains Abroad

The beacon of light and hope that people refer to when describing Beacon, NY, the city named for fires burning atop Mount Beacon during the Revolutionary War to send signals warning of British advancement, extends beyond the City of Beacon to reach refugees locally and in warring countries abroad. Today, Beaconites have organized to send money to people displaced by war,  with the culmination of three such fundraisers from 2015 to 2016 having raised over $13,000 to be sent to nonprofit groups who help refugees, or to organizers who have a direct connection to a refugee camp and deliver and distribute the donation themselves.

Lemon bars with olive oil and sea salt from the artist Anna Bergin, for sale at the Beacon of Love bake sale. Photo Credit: Beacon of Love Facebook Page

Lemon bars with olive oil and sea salt from the artist Anna Bergin, for sale at the Beacon of Love bake sale.
Photo Credit: Beacon of Love Facebook Page

On December's Second Saturday this year, a local group called Beacon of Love, whose group type in Facebook is a category called "Get Things Done," raised $4,476.60 during a pop-up bake sale organized by Julie Shiroishi. Held in Open Space, an art gallery on the east end of Beacon, the pop-up benefited 80 refugees relocating to the Hudson Valley from the Middle East and Africa. Proceeds went to Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley for the #BeaconofLove project, and will be used to help the people coming over.

In 2015, just before Thanksgiving, a pop-up bake sale called "Bake Love Not War" was hosted by Shannon Brandt of Shambhala Yoga Center, Anna Sullivan-Youatt, and Nisreen Nasser. That sale raised $3,500, which was personally delivered by Nisreen to a Lebanese refugee camp located on the border with Syria. The fundraising organization is now known as Solidarity Through Humanity and continues to raise money and document the use of donation efforts through an online campaign platform, IndieGoGo, and has raised $5,271 from 82 people in the last 23 days (as of this publishing), and the donating continues here for the next delivery to Lebanon. Solidarity Through Humanity's goal is to deliver fuel for heating, water management techniques to keep water from seeping in under tents, and other supplies to help the 600 refugees living there through harsh conditions. The first death at the camp was a child.

Pictures taken by the contact and distributor Nisreen Nasser after the "Bake Love Not War" pop-up bake sale fundraiser at Shambhala Yoga Center last year. Nisreen's goal was to distribute fuel to the refugees who otherwise have no heat in the winter in the mountains of Lebanon on the Syrian border. learn about that camp here. Photo Credit: Solidarity Through Humanity Facebook Page

Pictures taken by the contact and distributor Nisreen Nasser after the "Bake Love Not War" pop-up bake sale fundraiser at Shambhala Yoga Center last year. Nisreen's goal was to distribute fuel to the refugees who otherwise have no heat in the winter in the mountains of Lebanon on the Syrian border. learn about that camp here.
Photo Credit: Solidarity Through Humanity Facebook Page

Bake Sale Fundraisers That Persuade Through Sweetness

Perhaps first to demonstrate the great impact of a bake sale fundraiser are the ladies behind For Goodness Bake, Kristen Pratt and Tara Tornello. They're known for organizing pop-up bake sales straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine spread, and they dedicate 100 percent of the proceeds to one cause per year. So far, they've benefited the Beacon Community Kitchen, Green Teen, and Kids R Kids Feeding Program, raising a few thousand dollars each sale for the causes. Veterans of this art, they have advised others on how to make their bake sales a success.

Bake Sale Fundraising Takes a Community

The effort behind such a bake sale involves a community effort, with sometimes more than 100 citizen bakers volunteering to get their bake on by breaking out their most favorite dessert cookbook, and trying a recipe that will impress and tempt donors into purchasing a single piece or an entire pie or loaf of bread. Professional establishments have been known to donate baked goods as well. What often accompanies such fundraisers is the build-up to the event, with citizen bakers posting pictures of their accomplishments, and bake sale organizers thanking each baker in social media posts. The anticipation, and the unique notes from the bakers, such as this one shown below, help make the events a success: "Pear-Pecan-Vanilla Tart: Full of gluten, nuts, butter, super fattening. YOU WANT THIS TART. Sooooo good. - Enid"

Citizen baker Enid Zentellis tempts donors with her Pear-Pecan-Vanilla-Tart. Photo credit: Beacon of Love's Facebook Page.

Citizen baker Enid Zentellis tempts donors with her Pear-Pecan-Vanilla-Tart.
Photo credit: Beacon of Love's Facebook Page.

Stepping up the game can also be a raffle with prizes, as was the case with the Beacon of Love fundraiser, which offered a number of prizes from local and national brands.

These fundraisers are easy to participate in - both as a baker and as a buyer - making community stronger all around. They're a spoonful of sugar in spotlighting problems that may otherwise find fundraising slow-going.