By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? What about a snickerdoodle? They taste even sweeter when baked for a good cause.
Shrewsbury High School rising senior Leah Rider is using her love of baking to help raise funds for the Shrewsbury Public Schools’ Colonial Fund by forming the “Smart Cookie Fundraiser.”
“This summer, and the past couple of months, has been extremely long and extremely difficult for everyone…I felt useless to stand by and do nothing,” she explained. “I figured the easiest way to start was directly in my own community and schools, which are going to have to make some cuts. I decided to combine one of my favorite hobbies with my desire to make a difference.”
“Originally, orders were mostly from friends and family, but now we take orders from anyone interested through our email [email protected],” Leah explained.
Kathleen Keohane and Michelle Biscotti, co-coordinators of development and volunteer activities and administrators of the Colonial Fund, were thrilled to learn of this endeavor.
“The Smart Cookie fundraiser is an innovative and creative idea, which is what The Colonial Fund was established for, and what we hoped to encourage in our students,” they said in an email.
With a multi-million dollar budget deficit for the 2020-21 school year, the Colonial Fund will be used to fund whatever the district determines is the greatest need for teachers and students, they added.
Rider hopes to inspire other Shrewsbury students to join her cause. She has gathered a group of about 11 students who were interested in baking and asked them to start taking requests in their own circle of family and friends.
“My goal is to raise at least $1,000 for our schools, although I’m hopeful to raise much more with the help of everyone involved,” she added. “We’ve raised roughly $500 at this point.”
“Leah loves baking and making people happy. This fundraiser is a great way for her to bring joy and help the Shrewsbury school system,” her mom, Kristin, shared.
“We are very grateful for any and all support from our community and are especially proud of these Shrewsbury students who have stepped up to help out personally,” Biscotti and Keohane noted.
When asked about safety measures, Rider said, “In order to ensure safety with COVID when baking, I make sure to thoroughly wash my hands before and during the process, as well as use gloves to handle the food for packaging.”
She and her team always wear their masks, especially as they interact with their customers.
While the fundraisers’ focus is on cookies, they will also take requests for any baked goods, such as pies, cakes, etc. Cookies, muffins and scones are usually $12 a dozen, and larger items such as cakes or pies are in the $15 to $20 dollar range.
They will gladly accept any donations from those who don’t wish any baked goods but still want to support the cause. Payments can be made through Venmo, cash or checks made payable to Shrewsbury Colonial Fund.
The fundraiser is ongoing throughout the summer and could extend into the fall.
“We are always ready to take a baking request or welcome a new member,” noted Rider. “I hope to soon expand our number of customers with our Facebook page.”
For more information or place an order, email [email protected].
Although Leah doesn’t know yet what she would like to do beyond high school, one thing is certain – she wants to “help to fix the things wrong in the world.”
And she is certainly off to a good start in her own community, one cookie at a time.