At IJM Canada, we’ve seen our fair share of fundraisers. But the ones that seems to be the most popular almost always involve food. The Baking for Freedom campaign is no different. Grace and Sarah, two young women determined to do their part to end slavery, told us all about their bake sale business journey.
(Spoiler: they’ve raised over $1300 so far!)
Read their interview…
Tell us a bit about yourselves!
Grace: My name is Grace; I’m 17 years old and I’m going into grade 12. At school, I love being a leader in any way I can, whether that means helping out grade 9s on their first day of school or helping to lead a group project in class. Outside of school I do dance, and I’m interested in going into something with science for my career.
Sarah: I’m Sarah, I’m 17, and I’m going into grade 12 as well. I play on the volleyball team and I help lead worship at our school youth group. I have so much passion for the culinary arts and I am debating between that and social work for my career. I cook a lot with my dad because he used to be a chef. My favourite dish to cook is chicken parmesan with fettuccine alfredo.
We both love to bake as well, and we live in the Oakville area.
Tell us about your fundraiser – what is it, how many people are involved, how did you get started?
Grace: Baking for Freedom is a group of students and friends. Together, we’re raising money through bake sales to raise awareness and to fight for the freedom of child slaves. We all come together and decide on different bake sale locations, or email different places to have a bake sale.
Whenever we get a positive response to an email, as many people as are available come to the bake sale where we sell the treats. Overall there are about 10 people involved, but it depends on a given bake sale how many people can help out. It might be five people that can come to a given bake sale- some people bake and some people may just sell, since some of our team doesn’t know how to bake.
It started because we both learned about slavery in a class at school and after learning about it, we couldn’t just sit by and do nothing. It just seemed wrong. I researched different organizations that help fight child slavery, and IJM stood out as the organization that had the most clear mission and set goals. I contacted IJM about fundraising, set the goal, and we just got started from there. We began emailing places for fundraising opportunities and I told my friends about what I was doing – they were all very supportive. With their help, we have done 5-6 bake sales so far and raised over $1300.
What do you hope to accomplish through your fundraiser?
Sarah: Through our bake sales and with the help of IJM, we want to fundraise and reach our goal of $8,200, which we would then donate to IJM. That’s the approximate cost of funding a rescue mission to help children in slavery.
Why are you interested in combating issues of injustice?
Grace: Once you’ve heard about the terrible social injustice issues that exist around the world, like child slavery, you just can’t not be interested in fighting it. The fact that there are over 45 million people in slavery around the world- that they don’t have access to the basic human right of freedom- is just horrifying. In Canada, we live in such a bubble of wealth and success that it’s really important to be aware of the other things going on in the world. It’s not just us. It’s really important to be aware of the other people in the world and to do something for the injustices that exist. We can’t just sit in our little bubble and not do anything.
Sarah: I really agree with what Grace said; I believe that God gave me and Grace this passion for a reason, and I want to be able to educate people on the social injustices that are taking place both locally and internationally. If I can make a difference while also educating people, then that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
Is this a lifelong passion for you? Do you know what you’d like to do as a career?
Grace: It definitely is. As long as there are children in slavery, it will always be a passion for me. I’m not totally sure what I want to do yet, but at least for this next year I’ll stay with Baking for Freedom. In my career, I know I want to do something that helps others and makes people’s lives better. If I could fit Baking for Freedom into my career somehow, it would be really great.
Sarah: I definitely know I want to continue with Baking for Freedom in the next year, and if that leads to something bigger, then I am all for it. But if it stops after this then I would want to go into social work because I know I would be able to work one-on-one with people in need and actually make a difference in my community. That’s a big thing for me.
Who are your role models?
Sarah: Personally, mine would be Craig Kielburger because he was just a kid with a passion, kind of like us, and he wasn’t afraid to speak about what he believed in. Now he’s the CEO of a large organization that is changing the world that we live in.
Grace: For me, I don’t really have many role models. I’m inspired by several people - I’m inspired by everyone who works at IJM because you’ve all dedicated your lives to fighting slavery. I find that pretty inspiring. I’m also Christian so I try to live my life as Jesus was while on Earth, loving everybody before himself.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in making this fundraiser happen?
Grace: We’ve faced a few challenges - for example, it’s pretty hard to actually get bake sale locations. We try to piggyback off different events so that we can get the most amount of people at the bake sale. Getting an optimal bake sale location is hard because there’s often a lot of different regulations about food at events.
I’ve probably emailed over 100 different places about bake sales, but I’ve only gotten responses from about a quarter of them. And out of that quarter only half of them say yes. This really just shows that people want to ignore the world’s problems because they may seem too big to face- so they just decide not to reply to my emails. Obviously that point of view is totally wrong because every donation counts, and each bake sale makes a huge difference.
Sarah: Also, sometimes at the actual bake sale location, people don’t take us seriously because we’re just two teenagers selling baked goods (even though we actually know what we are talking about). It’s also hard to compete with the more professional food vendors at events.
Do you have any funny moments you can share from fundraising? What was it?
Grace: One of my favourite moments happens every bake sale – a few people will come up to tell us how inspired they are, and how it brings them joy to see young people making a difference. It’s pretty cool to see that we’ve brought people happiness and to show them that there is hope in the world.
Sarah: I think it was our second or third bake sale. We had a lady come up to us and she told us that she had actually worked for International Justice Mission and had gone on the rescue operations that we’re fundraising for. It was cool to see someone living what we’re trying to fund.
Any advice you’d like to share with those your age who are also looking to create change?
Grace: If anyone is looking to fundraise or make any sort of change, you just have to jump in and go for it. Change is not going to happen by just sitting around and doing nothing. Or even thinking about it- it’s nice to have an idea, but you have to do something to get it started. Once you get started, don't give up- even if it’s boring or seems to be going nowhere. If it seems you’re getting nowhere, and you think you’re not making a difference, just remember that every penny counts and that every effort is worth it.
Sarah: Another thing is to not be afraid to voice what you believe in and if someone doesn’t want to listen to you or won’t listen to you, you don’t have to make them. If that person ignores you then the next person is going to hear you. Make sure you have a positive attitude and not second guess what you believe in.
Where can people find your baked goods next?
What are your strangest talents?
Grace: We can both wiggle our ears.
Sarah: I also have a double-jointed elbow so I can rotate my hand 360 degrees.
If you could learn the answer to one question about your future, what would it be?
Grace: I would want to know what career or what path I should take in my life, where I would find the most fulfillment and joy.
Sarah: I would want to know if I’m happy. If I’m full of passion and love and joy for my job and family and life- if that’s there, then I’ll be satisfied.
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
Grace: If you think that you can’t make a difference by doing something, if you think that you are just one person, and question ‘what difference am I going to make?’, if you have a big idea, there is a reason you have it and you should definitely go for it and at least try. If you don’t try, you’ll never see the potential that you could have or the change that you could make.
Sarah: It’s true, if Grace didn’t voice her ideas, and if she was afraid of being judged by me or any of us in our friend group, then I don’t think this would have come together as well as it has. So it was through her being as fearless as she was in voicing her believes, and finding out that we share a similar passion, that this whole movement got started. You just can’t be afraid to take a risk and you have to go for it.
This article is part of a series featuring the amazing individuals who offer their time and talents to fundraise for us. Inspired? Get started with your fundraiser at IJM.ca/fundraise.