ABERDEEN – After a year lost to the coronavirus pandemic, the community will see the return of an annual holiday bake sale that benefits children in need.
The bake sale will be held from 7-10 p.m. Dec. 17, from 1-10 p.m. Dec. 18, and from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at AMF Strathmore Lanes, 1061 Route 34, Aberdeen Township.
Wendy Levy, the event’s organizer, said the coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 bake sale to be cancelled. However, two scholarships that are supported by the annual event were funded with donations.
“As with everything else, COVID had a huge impact on our event (in 2020). We were not able to host the bake sale and we did not feel comfortable asking for donations as everyone was suffering the effects of the pandemic. However, through generous donations from family and friends, we were still able to award two scholarships in memory of my daughter,” Levy said.
In 2003, Levy’s daughter, Jamie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The youngster passed away 15 months later at the age of 6.
Jamie’s brother, Joshua, decided to honor his sister by raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as part of his bar mitzvah project and in 2007 the first bake sale was held. The outpouring of support from the community allowed Joshua to raise enough money for two full wishes to be granted to youngsters.
The support and encouragement the Levy family received eventually compelled Wendy to host a bake sale each year.
For Levy, the event started with two goals, which were “to financially support a child in critical medical need from our community” and “to make a significant donation to a children’s’ medical organization.”
In 2015 a third goal was added, the commemoration of Jamie’s life.
“In 2015 we added a third goal and decided to sponsor a scholarship in our daughter’s memory for volunteerism and community service. The scholarship was awarded for the first time in what would have been her high school graduating year of 2016 at Matawan Regional High School (MRHS),” Levy said.
This year’s donations will benefit Liv Like A Unicorn, which is based in Freehold Township.
According to Levy, Liv Like A Unicorn, which is a nonprofit organization, “funds critical research for brain and spinal cord tumors and supports families dealing with the devastating diagnosis of pediatric brain cancer.”
Funds raised will also benefit the Jamie Levy Memorial Scholarship, which is available for the Class of 2022 at MRHS. Students planning to attend a two-year college or a four-year college are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
Levy said residents of all communities are welcome to attend the bake sale at Strathmore Lanes and to support the goals of the event.
“Anyone is always welcome to attend and provide direct donations, or to buy baked goods for their holidays, and to provide moral support for the bake sale efforts. It has become an anticipated event to connect with friends and family from all over New Jersey,” Levy said.
Through her personal loss, Levy is providing hope and opportunities for individuals who are less fortunate.
By recruiting local youths to help facilitate the event, she has also been able to make connections and memories that once seemed impossible given her circumstances.
“There are many wonderful things that have come out of these bake sales. Kids who may not have known each other before bond over the entire experience and make new friends. They learn to put aside some of their personal time to volunteer and help others less fortunate than themselves.
“On a personal level, I get a flavor of what it might have been like to have a teenage daughter. The girls talk about school, dating, sports, prom and college and that is a joy for me.
“My family and I are extremely thankful this event has provided us with the opportunity to help families in need during a medical crisis, just as our community came together to help us in our time of greatest need.
“Last and most importantly is that I am only able to do all this with the encouragement and support of my husband, David, my son, Joshua, my friends and my family. They are what gives me the strength and love to continue to run this annual event and to make it the success it has become,” Levy said.
For more information about how to volunteer and/or donate, contact Wendy Levy via email at email@example.com or call 732-766-5578.