Young Baker Who Donates Pastries to the Homeless
A feel good story making its rounds on the Internet recently features Michael Platt, a thirteen year old from Bowie, Maryland with a passion for two things – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and cupcakes!
Micheal’s fascination with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr began when he was often found daydreaming by the ‘I Have a Dream’ poster in his grandparents’ house, imagining ways he too could fight for justice. He even memorised statistics about income inequality and childhood hunger.
Three years ago, Michael received a pair of TOMS shoes for Christmas, which inspired him to find a way of combining his passion for cupcakes and helping the underprivileged – his own bakery called Michaels Desserts. His business operates on the one-for-one donation model, inspired by TOMS shoes. For each cupcake, cake or cookie sold, Michael donates another to the homeless and the hungry.
Speaking to The Washington Post, the budding entrepreneur said, “I knew that I wanted to make a business, but I knew I didn’t just want to make money, I also wanted to help people at the same time.”
A closer look at the name of his bakery would reveal that he purposely left out the apostrophe to remind himself that the sole purpose of the business was for the benefit of others. In fact, the bakery has partnered with Washington, DC-based No Kid Hungry, a non-profit that provides meals to end child hunger in America and also hosts educational programmes.
In his quest to feed the underprivileged, Michael visits domestic violence shelters, transitional housing and McPherson Square in the District of Columbia twice a month to pass out goodies.
Every month, Michael bakes about 12 cookies, 75 cupcakes, and 12 rotating ‘chef’s choice’ items which are also referred to as ‘freedom fighter cupcakes’, based on selected historical figures for each month.
For instance, the month of June is dedicated to Maya Angelou. The cupcake made in her honour was a banana pudding cupcake because it was her favourite dessert.
This month’s Freedom Fighter Cupcake is a Carrot Halwa stuffed spiced cupcake with sweet cream whipped icing and pistachios in honour of Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate and her contribution “to make sure that everyone who wants an education, can have an education”.
Meanwhile, the classic chocolate cake is always reserved for the month of November to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela. Michael dresses the dessert with dark frosting to represent the revolutionary political icon’s hair.
When Michael first founded the business two years ago, his parents had to chip in to sustain the bakery. Now, the home-based business has grown and is able to fund itself. Most of the customers place their orders through Facebook. In a month, he roughly sells 75 cupcakes along with a dozen cookies and ‘chef’s choice’ items.
Although it may seem that baking comes naturally to him, Michael first became interested in baking in the sixth grade. During that time, Michael had to withdraw from public school as he was diagnosed with epilepsy. His seizures became too severe and frequent to the point that it made him difficult to sit in a classroom.
“It was a very, very difficult time”, his mother revealed. “He had to stop everything he loved: gymnastics, climbing trees, diving.” That is when he started baking as it made him feel calm.
Over the years, it’s only natural for him to grow tired of baking given the amount of time he spends in the kitchen; what keeps him going is the personal encounter with a homeless boy. The young boy was so inspired by Michael that he also aspires to be a baker just like him.
Keep up the good work, Michael! It’s always admirable when a young person goes the extra mile to help the needy!