Talk about exceeding expectations! It was the perfect storm: a charity event benefiting two great institutions, a fun and easy way to donate – and cupcakes!
Cupcake Camp Montreal is the brain child of Eva Blue and her team of dedicated volunteers. The concept: get Montrealers to bake cupcakes and donate them to the event, then hold a massive bake sale. All proceed go directly to charity.
Of course I was all in! I suddenly remembered how much I love baking, and though I had never baked cupcakes in my life I decided to give it a whirl. Another reason for me to get on board: the two charities involved: Kids Help Phone and La Tablée des Chefs. Supporting Kids Help Phone was especially important to me. The recent suicides of children and teens as a result of bullying has stirred up much discussion in the media and sparked many demonstrations of goodwill. But there’s nothing like physically supporting an institution who has helped children in a tangible way for over twenty years. I spoke with Linda Bell, Regional Director of Kids Help Phone, an enthusiastic, energetic woman who lives and breathes to support her cause. “We answer 2.6 million calls from kids in trouble each year,” she told me as she was setting up her info table at the event. My first reaction was dismay – 2.6 million kids are in enough trouble to have to call for help? But then I realized: that’s 2.6 million kids who received help, that’s 2.6 million times a trained professional counsellor made a kid’s life better – and maybe even saved their lives. “Of all the calls received, about a quarter of them are emergencies and relate to serious psychological trauma,” explained Bell. “Though the other 75% are just as important – even a small problem can seem insurmountable to a child. We want to catch the problems while they’re small, so they don’t grow into an emergency.” That’s when it occurred to me: I should have baked more cupcakes!
Thankfully cupcakes are very easy to bake and also allow for creativity when it comes to decorating. My “Deep Sky Cupcakes” were dark chocolate flavoured, stuffed with dark chocolate chunks, topped with heaps of blue icing and crowned with piles of candy. I figured one of these babies should provide enough energy to induce a sugar rush that will last a week. If you ate one of them you may still be high as you’re reading this.
As I dropped off my box of 36 calorie bombs at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel in the morning of the event, volunteers were already busy setting up tables and lining up the baked goods. The buzz in the rooms was amazing. Initially the organizers had hoped for a pledge of 10,000 cupcakes, but through word of mouth and social media promotion the Cupcake-O-Meter topped out at over twice as much! Eva and her team had to move the event from the Montreal Trust building to the Fairmount Hotel at the last minute to accommodate the avalanche of contributions. Noone had expected Cupcake Camp to be so popular, and everyone was electrified, getting ready for the crowds.
And boy, were there ever some crowds. The cupcake sale started at 1pm, and after I had dropped off my cakes in the morning I went back home (to clean up my kitchen…). As I returned to the Fairmount at 3pm I was greeted by a huge queue of hungry Montrealers, waiting at the hotel doors in a long line that folded back on itself several times. And it was cold out there! I heard that some waited for an hour and a half to get in – now that’s determination!
When I made it inside the place was hopping. The event was more than a mere bake sale. There were cupcake competitions and TV personalities volunteering as judges, there was a cupcake cannon, a screening of the movie “Despicable Me”, and about a hundred kids bouncing off the walls. The atmosphere was fantastic, and I was thoroughly impressed by the skill of our city’s bakers. Even the amateur contributions looked like they could have been sold in any bakery, and the entries for the cupcake competitions were spectacular. As I exchanged my last ticket for a glistening lemon and banana cupcake and gingerly placed it in my box to take home, an announcement was made: “If you have filled your box, and had a good chance to look around – please leave. We love you, but there are hundreds of people outside waiting to get in. Please make space for them!”. That was my cue, and I headed home.
In the end Cupcake Camp Montreal raised $34,500 during the four hour bake sale, more than twice the target the organizers had hoped for. What an amazing achievement! Congratulations to Eva Blue and her team, to the army of volunteers, to the sponsors, and to my fellow cupcake bakers. Way to go!
My suggestion to Eva for next year’s event: honey, you need a bigger venue. Try booking the Olympic Stadium. And you can count on me for more cupcakes!