Quarantine was a very interesting time for many, as it was the most free time lots of people, mainly high school and college students, had in awhile. People struggled to figure out what to do with themselves and turned to many different outlets. Some took up crafting, others started exercising, and many began baking. Baking was Perkiomen Valley senior Julianna Ehm’s outlet during quarantine, which eventually led to her helping others.
Julianna was a very active student before the pandemic, taking several dance classes every weeknight, volunteering whenever she possibly could, taking several honors and AP classes, and working a part-time job, all while trying to maintain a social life. When much of this activity suddenly stopped at the start of quarantine, Julianna decided to do something she really loved but didn’t always have time to do in the past: she began to bake.
Being unable to physically volunteer because of COVID-19 restrictions made Julianna think about how she could help others while we were all adjusting to this crazy time. Selling baked goods to raise money for charity is the only thing Julianna could think of that she could do to help others, as she had already been making tons of baked goods.
Julianna decided to raise money for the charity Mitzvah Circle because she had volunteered there many times before and really liked the organization. Mitzvah Circle is an organization in the Audubon and Norristown area that packages boxes with clothes, shoes, toiletries, and toys for families in need in Montgomery County. Julianna created a diverse menu of many baked goods such as red velvet cake, lemon cookies, banana bread, and more. She made posts on Facebook and Instagram where people could private message her to order their desserts. When purchasing these sweet treats, customers could donate any amount they wanted and all of the proceeds would go to the Mitzvah Circle. Julianna would then hand-make and deliver all of the goods herself. She would even customize desserts according to people’s dietary restrictions, such as vegan or gluten-free. People would also ask Julianna if she could make items that weren’t on her menu, and then sometimes, they would later be added to her menu.
What surprised Julianna about this experience was the donations. People she never would have expected to donate often did. Others would say they didn’t want a baked good, and that they just wanted to donate to a great cause, which she thought was super nice. She was even contacted through Instagram by random people who just wanted to try her baked goods and make a donation. Overall, Julianna raised $1,300 for Mitzvah Circle.
“It feels really great! During quarantine, when I was doing all the baking, it was a lot of work, but it gave me a purpose when I had nothing else to do, which was the best thing, and it was really rewarding,” Julianna said, when reflecting on the experience.
Although Julianna did all of the work herself, she is extremely thankful for her parents and all they did to help her. Whether it was buying her ingredients, going with her to deliver orders, or cleaning dishes, all of these things helped her in some way.
“It was a super fun experience because, before I started raising money, I was baking during quarantine a lot anyways since I just love doing it and then I just kept doing it while raising money,” Julianna said.
Although this was a fun and rewarding experience that Julianna would like to continue, she is unsure if she will be able to do it again in the future because of the incredible amount of work involved. To stay updated on if Julianna will do this again, you can follow her on Instagram “@julianna.ehm.”
Photos: Julianna Ehm