So once a week, the girls and I volunteer at a food pantry that's just a few blocks from our house. We walk over, help unload the donation truck, stock the pantry, and then help out during the shopping hours by restocking, getting people signed in, handing out shopping bags, carrying their groceries, helping them shop--basically whatever we're needed for. The girls can help out with all of this, or they can read or color at the children's table, or they can hold the door open for the shoppers with their arms full of bags (this is a fun job because, as you can imagine, it comes with lots of praise and positive reinforcement!), or--and this is their favorite thing to do--they can play on the sidewalk outside the pantry, often with gigantic cardboard boxes that they've snagged from one of the adult volunteers before it's broken down for recycling. It's a great, kid-friendly environment, a place where we like everyone and where we like to be, a place where the girls can interact with lots of different people, a place where I can get off my butt and use my muscles, a place where even kids can do meaningful work and see concrete, immediate results from it.
Anyway, the absolute only reason why I'm telling you all about this is so I can also tell you that on this donation truck that gets unloaded are, in particular, unsold items from store bakeries. It's not the pantry's favorite thing to stock, because this pantry tries to focus on real, whole, healthy foods, but the shoppers do love desserts, and anyway they keep coming on the truck, so there you go. But unsold bakery goods are some of MY personal favorite things to stock, because what, apparently, is the number one reason why a bakery good remains unsold?
Because it's horrifyingly butt-ugly, that's why! Think "brownie dippers" that looks like a giant poo pile of brownie pieces covered in icing. Think "butterfly cupcake cake" with a bunch of cupcakes arranged into a vague butterfly shape, covered in piles of orange icing, with a leering green icing smile on the north-most cupcake. Think sheet cake with Justin Bieber's face on it.
A few weeks ago, the mother of all ugly cakes came in:
But the best part is the writing on the cake, in pink icing: "Happy Birthday Julie." ME! This cake has MY name on it! Sure, it's written kind of half-assed, with too much room above and to the side, the perfect amount of room to write the name bigger and cuter, but the decorator was all, "Nah, I'll just put it here real quick, nice and small, but with a little curlicue on the J to show that I'm making an effort."
And to think that it ended up at the food pantry instead of being purchased by the person who ordered it. I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall during that particular conversation!