A Bake Sale
by Ryan McCubbin
My company frustrates me some times. We've been having layoffs basically since I started there (maybe I’m the problem), we don't seem to execute well on any of our great ideas, and were suffering badly in this economy. I used to be paid well but now work round the clock for no extra money just to get all the things done I need too (and I fall short of that all the time too). But if you believe like I try to that a company is the people that work for it, then I work for a great company. We had a bake sale last week for a great friend of mine Patrick. Patrick has had a year that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, he's had three long hospital stays for separate issues, and has spent a good deal of the year either paralyzed or too weak to do almost anything because of a rare disease. His last doctors visit a couple months back revealed a new problem with his spine that required his entire back to be fused. He now has to sit in a back brace for up to the next eight months that is about the most uncomfortable thing I've ever seen, and has some major pain issues on top of not being able to get around at all. The total for these three hospital visits that he's responsible for paying is over $40K, and that’s still being added on too. On top of that he's on disability pay so his check has been cut in half while he can't work.
So to try and help him a bit we organized a bake sale where people could donate whatever they wanted, and take whatever they wanted, no item had a price. Our timing was bad as our company is having a rough quarter, and it was a fairly large lay off day so we spent the morning saying goodbye to our colleagues, not the best mood for any sort of giving drive. To say we didn't know what to expect would be a huge understatement. First of all baked goods came from everywhere, literally by the van load from one baking queen. Chels made a bunch of graham cracker bars and my mom chipped in with some of her famous individual cherry cheesecakes. We filled five tables full of cookies, pies, cakes, breads, scones, and other treats and waited for people to show up. We didn't have to wait long, even though we advertised from 11-1:30 we had people waiting as we set up before 11. People, many of whom had never heard of Patrick but read his story and were touched, or even didn't hear his story but saw he was in need and had given 9 years to the company chipped in large amounts and took little back. Many dropped money in to our coffee buckets without wanting anything in return. One man paid $200 for a cupcake (to be fair I've had those cupcakes before and it's a very good cupcake). Another $50 for two oatmeal raisin cookies. One gave a $20 and needed $10 in change which we gave him and as he walked away saw the amount of giving around him and came back with the $10 we just gave him. We filled up two cards for Patrick front and back despite many chipping in and not needing to sign the card. Watching someone throw in a $20 and say "I don't know him, I don’t need to sign the card or need anything" became a common occurrence. Our five tables filled quickly became 3 consolidated, then two, then one. We advertised until 1:30 but ran out of food by one. No matter, people still came and dropped off money, not even caring that they took back nothing in return. When I got back to my desk I logged in to my PayPal account to find that the word got spread, big time. I got donations from two different provinces in Canada, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts despite only sending out word in Colorado. I got donations from people that left the company but had word passed to them and seeked me out to make a donation. All in all in a few hours we had over $5,000 to give to a guy who needed it badly. I hope it changed his outlook on what a good place the world can be, and gave him hope when he was down. No one minded at all, because he's the type of guy that would do the same thing in a second if it were any of us.
Selfishly it gave me a better feeling than I've had all year. What started out as simple as selling some cookies became so much more. In these grim times when we don’t know what the days news will bring its easy to lose focus on how good people can be sometimes. Many of the people who donated have spouses out of work, or might themselves be out of work soon if things don't turn around soon. And yet they were just as happy to write their checks as I was to receive them. Even in hard times, the world is full of decent people. It's good to see reminders of that sometimes.
Original Blog Entry posted on Ryan McCubbin's Website.