My Other Blog

What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen

Catchin' the Spirit

I've jokingly told my friends and family that I'm boycotting Christmas this year, and I bet a lot of you can relate: too much stress, too little time to sit back and remember what it was that you used to love about this time of year, and too many annoying advertisers screeching that you're a bad parent or friend or loved one if you don't BUY STUFF - and lots of it.

But here's the thing: buying the usual run of candles and foot massagers and, yes, even outrageously funny gift books [wink wink] for my loved ones doesn't get me in the holiday spirit. Frankly, most of these gifts don't get them in the spirit, either.

"Gee, you shouldn't have. No, seriously."

I found inspiration in the form of Wreckie Collette Yates (no relation) and the Charity Cake-Wreck-a-thon she and some friends recently put together in Brighton. See, they asked friends and community members to bring in horrendously decorated baked goods (and boy, were there some doozies) which they sold at a local train station. In one afternoon they managed to raise 450 pounds for two cancer-fighting charities.

(From the left, that's Rachel, Collette, & Helen)
The power of Wreckage, used for good!

Now, Cake Wrecks is the sole source of income for me and John. (We used to be painters, but the economy nixed that.) However, thanks to you readers we can still afford to to give a little.

Which got us thinking: If 3 gals can use Cake Wrecks as a springboard to organize something that cool for charity, why can't we? And since Wreckies are some of the most creative, giving, and nattily dressed folks we know....

(You continue to rock, Mary Beth.)

...then why not get you, the evil wrecky henchpersons, involved?

So here's the deal: instead of buying gifts or trees or decorations this year, John and I are going to donate a minimum of $200 to a different charity or worthy cause, every day, for the next two weeks.

Which ones?

Well, that's where you come in.

See, we have a few organizations in mind, but certainly not 14. So, I'm asking for your recommendations.What are you passionate about? Where do you volunteer your time, talents, and money? Who do you know that needs help? Tell me in the comments (not e-mail!), so that we all can read and learn and maybe even give a little together.

Oh, and if you're worrying that CW is going to turn into a charity-pushing propaganda site for the next few weeks: don't. I'll just be adding a footnote to each day's post giving you the name of the organization, a one-sentence summary, and a link if you want to learn more.

Now, John and I will be choosing each day's charity based on our own individual passions - which might not match up exactly with your own - but even so I'm going to issue you a little challenge. Ready? Here 'tis:

Give one dollar to each day's charity.

If you each give one dollar - just one solitary smackeroo - together we can raise over $80,000 each day. BAM. Just like that. Imagine that 14 times over, all for worthy causes. Imagine the number of lives that could impact. Imagine, if you will...the bragging rights.

Yeah, you heard me. When you get involved in something that awesome, you get major bragging rights.

Ok. So. You pumped? You with me? You...ready for this post to be over? Heh, I hear ya.

Today's charity is Charity: Water. These guys use 100% of all donations to drill wells and provide clean drinking water to developing nations. Believe it or not, 1 out of 8 people on the planet lack this basic life-need, and every $5,000 builds a well that serves over 250 people.

Go here to donate your $1. That's the CW campaign page, where you can watch our progress, leave notes, and learn more. (Watch the video: it'll make you do a happy dance.) I've set us an easy goal - just $20K, or 4 wells - so I can't wait to see how far above and beyond that you guys are going to get us.

It's just a dollar, guys. C'mon. Let's do this together.

Note: PayPal *is* an option to donate, if you click here and hit the red donate button. A few caveats, though: PayPal takes $.30 of your dollar in fees, and your donation can't be tracked as part of the CW campaign that way. However, the point here is to give, so if you're only comfortable using PayPal, then please do so!

Update: One well down! That's right, guys, as of 4PM EST, we raised enough to pay for one well! Just three more to go...

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Reader Comments (1529)

My suggestion is St. Jude's Childrens Hospital. A WONDERFUL place. I have never had to take a child there, which I am very thankful for, but I donate to them every year. They do so much for those poor sick kids and they NEVER turn away someone if they can't pay. PLEASE pick St. Jude's!!!!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSixxlet

Saint Jude's Children's Hospital is a soft spot for me, as is any cancer research program. It's a horrible disease, and as my grandma's currently being tested for colon cancer, it's weighing especially heavily on my mind lately.
And all of you Wreckies out there, if you're monetarily challenged, go to your local blood bank and donate platelets! You can save lives without having to spend anything but gas money!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDixie

I just have to post my Make a Wish story:

When I was young, my best friend was a girl with Cystic Fibrosis. She was frail, sick a lot, and so incredibly sweet. Her only wish was to go to Disney World, but with her treatments, costs for care, and other problems, it just wasn't going to happen...
When she was 12, she started to take a turn for the worse - not uncommon with the disease. An anonymous benefactor worked with Make A Wish Foundation to help her realize her dream, complete with transportation, lodging, food, and nurses to help keep her healthy. Disney provided tickets for the family - parents, younger brother and sister - and she had a special Meet 'n' Greet with the princesses, including her favorite, Ariel.
Sadly, less than two months after her dream visit, she was hospitalized in critical condition - her lungs were giving out. As she had harder and harder times breathing, her parents told her it was okay to let go. She looked at them and said "Don't worry about me, mom, I did everything I ever could have dreamed." She passed soon after, but her family cherishes the memories.
As a child, I always was amazed by the fact someone made my friend's dream come true, and I donate every year to Make A Wish - time, money, telling my story.
Thanks for listening

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaryIrene

I'd also like to nominate the Christian Outreach Program & Pregnancy Center in Fluvanna/Buckingham Counties, VA. They're like the Red Cross for these rural counties and provide a variety of services, from replacing home items after a fire to clothing children in need to teaching women without running water how to breastfeed their babies. They run on volunteer service & are in desperate need of a new building/storage for their thrift store operations. They provide incredible services in a county where outhouses are still a common reality.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter~Mommy~

If I may, I would like to suggest the National Parkinson Foundation. Both my maternal grandfather and my father suffer from different forms of this debilitating disease. It is so hard to watch year after year as this disease robs them of so many abilities. My grandfather, who has a PhD in biochemistry, now lives in a nursing home, unable to care for himself. His mind is still sharp, but he needs help with everything from getting out of bed to brushing his teeth. My father, who used to be an accomplished craftsman who could fix anything, now has trouble gripping a wrench or screwdriver. Although they say that it is not an inherited disease, with two cases in our family I worry what the future holds for myself and my siblings, as well as my own children. So much still needs to be done to research this disease and come up with better treatments so that people like my grandfather and father don't have to suffer day to day from the effects.
Thank you for such a wonderful website, I come here daily for a good laugh!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshli Welsh

First off, I wanted to say that it is awesome that you guys are doing this.

Just a little over a year ago I lost my father to brain cancer, a sort of "orphan" disease because of the rarity of the cancer that he had. I nominate the American Brain Tumor Association for donations.

Here is their website:
And to donate:

And this is my father's website:

-Erin Quinn

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My passion is the March of Dimes! I've been doing the March for Babies for at least 15 years, then my sister had her first baby - 2 months early. Maddie is a beautiful, brilliant 9 year old now!

After Maddie was born we started our own family team which has grown to over 20 members and we raised over $3000 for the march last year.

My sister and I are also very involved in making the walk happen. We are the family team co-chairs for our county, which means that we help other people build their family teams and raise funds.

I'd love to see the March of Dimes on your list!

Thanks, Jen and Jon for doing this and truly giving this Christmas!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessy

This summer I worked at an orphanage called China Little Flower. They specialize in helping orphans in China that are in special need, particularly preemies and hospice kids. The people that run it are so so nice and the kids that live in the orphanage are really amazing. The three weeks I spent there changed my life. I know that they've been having a hard time getting donations and desperately need them if they're going to stay open.

I made a video about my trip there, the link is here:

ps. all the cakes in china are total wrecks. One of the girls had a birthday while we were there and the cake was almost all whip cream frosting with weird people creatures dwelling on the top.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterzoe Butler

I would like to add my favorite charity to the list: World Vision.

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that provides help for people all over the world. I have seen World Vision provide wells for clean water, teach farmers more effective farming techniques, provide seeds for farming, provide coats for children in cold climates, provide disaster relief worldwide, empower women with micro-loans,provide livestock for a livelihood, provide mosquito nets to malaria-prone regions, provide relief and medical supplies for persons suffering from HIV/AIDS in Africa- and the list goes on and on and on.

I have the great privilege to sponsor a child in Ethiopia, and it is an amazing experience. Just by sponsoring one child, you can make a difference in the life of an entire village.

Check out the World Vision website at

I hope that you'll consider this worthy organization!!!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I like the idea of people donating to some cancer charities. My father and maternal grandmother both recently died of the same cancer. I unfortunately am unable to donate much if any, so it would be really nice if people could do that. I'm from Newfoundland Canada so if it could be the Canadian Cancer Society that would be nice, but the American one is good too. Thanks. Karla

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkarla-grace

I like Heifer Int'l, as they require the recipients to work their gift, thus "teaching to fish" rather than giving a fish. I also like Habitat for Humanity for the same reason-the recipients are taught how their house is built, so they can maintain it.

WV-shedin-this shedin a good idea!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

JDRF is a wonderful organization to donate money to. Every year, my family goes to the Walk to Cure Diabetes. The organization supports Type 1 Diabetes Research and helps new parents of children with diabetes.

Donations instead of decorations is a gret idea! What better way to spread holiday cheer? (and you don't need to take out the ladders)

-Maya K.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Autism Speaks!!! The current statistic: 1 in 91 children are on the autsim spectrum... Including my son. You get the diagnosis that changes your life (or a loved one) and then they tell you that, by the way, no one knows its origin and there is no cure. It is truly a puzzle that needs figuring out!

My son also has an assistance dog through a nonprofit organization called "The Joys of Living Assistance Dogs." Our lives are blessed because of Bonnie. That's my other suggestion. :)

Great idea! I'm an even bigger fan now!


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

My favorite charities:
1. Children's Hospital

2. Make a Wish Foundation

3. The Jimmy Fund

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

There are two charities that are close to my heart. The first is the Signing Time Foundation. Its mission is to enrich the lives of children of all abilities. Back when they had enough money to do so, they made a sign language vocabulary show called Signing Time available on PBS and they even went over to Ghana with Signs of Hope International to help teach at a deaf school over there. They also helped make accessible playgrounds called miracle gardens, among several other things. However, they don't have enough money to do some of these things (the minimum 13 episodes they'd have to produce annually for PBS costs around $1.5 million and the Ghana trip took a big surge of fundraising), so I really think they deserve a day of fundraising.

The other one is JDRF, because I know people with type 1 diabetes and it needs a cure.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpurplewowies

Jen and John, you have collected an amazing group of people. Reading all of the places people are passionate about and work with or volunteer at is very humbling.

I am not doing "presents" this year. I'm doing donations to Heifer International, Angel Flight, UMCOR, and Blessings in a Backpack and then telling people that instead of spending $10 on a cheesy candle they don't need I'm going help feed a family.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCCherry

The YMCA of America always needs funds for its nonprofit summer camps. I've worked as a counselor at a day camp the past two summers and it's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. But, there's never enough funds to really do what needs to be done (i.e. facility repairs/upgrades, toys and games for the kids, training literature, enough counselors to maintain ratios). Anyway, the YMCA is near and dear to my heart and I would love to see it get the attention it deserves.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think this is an incredibly wonderful idea, and I am fully on board! There are three charities that I am really passionate about:

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital - wonderful organization (I think most people are aware of them and the work they do) that provides care and research for children suffering from cancer and provides support to their families. Not one person is turned away because they can't pay, and they are a god send to thousands of suffering families.

North Shore Animal League - Huge no kill shelter on Long Island, NY. They provide rescue services and save the lives of thousands of animals each year. I personally volunteer my time there, and am in awe of the work they do to save the lives of animals all over the country.

Operation Homefront - An organization that provides support to soliders overseas. I personally participate in their pen-pal program, writing one letter a week to a solider currently serving. Just a note to say thanks, or ask how they are doing. This organization also provides care packages, provides support services to families of soldiers in active duty, and also support to soldiers returning home from service.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I'd like to recommend Cakes for Cause ( CfC teaches vocational and life skills to youth aging out of foster care through a six month training program that takes place in a real, functioning, bakery setting. As a startup nonprofit, they need all the help they can get!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGWUWMP Chef

Special Olympics

“Let me win but if I can not win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

After working with persons with disabilities for the past few years, I can think of few things more rewarding than watching them develop a belief in their own self-worth. Special Olympics empowers and encourages them. I can think of no nobler cause.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStillapill

The Human Rights Campaign

St Judes Children's Hospital.

Right now money is tight, but I always spare a couple of extra dollars for these two. Especially the first since it is often overlooked as "something not important enough". But it is.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I realized that I wanted to say in my last comment that the Signing Time Foundation was inspired by one of the creator's daughters, Lucy, who was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. She was the first "Signing Time Miracle" when she signed and later spoke, even though her doctors said she wouldn't.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpurplewowies

My charity would be JDRF (The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund) in honor of my niece that was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 1. Not to mention the inherent irony of a blog called Cake Wrecks donating to a diabetes research website.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterscrapaddict

I'd like to submit Cancer Sucks Inc. as a charity. I've borrowed this directly from their Website

"Provide a forum for those who have lost loved ones to cancer while aggressively raising money to find a cure.
No one should have to go through what millions of cancer victims, survivors and those left behind have endured."
As one of those left behind I appreciate this unique approach to charity fundraising.
Vickie K.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous" rel="nofollow">The Uncultured Project
It's just an inspired guy using his own money, traveling to Bangladesh and trying to offset global poverty, even in the smallest way. It's not an organization, but he does (reluctantly) take donations. It would make a big difference if you donated!
Even if you don't choose that one, take a moment to look at" rel="nofollow">Save The Children, an actual organization which which he is affiliated.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBobina

Christian Blind Mission International is a favorite of mine. They provide medicines to prevent blindness, cataract surgeries, and other treatment for blindness and other handicaps.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

Please pick Onesight!!! It is a great organization that helps people all over the world! GIVE THE GIFT OF SIGHT!!!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNettie

I'm coming a little bit late to the party, but may I suggest investigating The Office of Letters and Light? They run National Novel Writing Month and Script Frenzy, two programs designed to encourage creativity in people of all ages. I've participated in National Novel Writing Month for several years, now, and I can say from experience that this is one of the most wonderful communities I have ever been a part of - encouraging, engaging, friendly, welcoming, and all-around excellent. And, the OLL uses its programs to promote creativity and literacy in schools throughout the USA, particularly through their Young Writers Program. Rarely have I seen a more awesome charity.

Their website is

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJainaKay

Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy ( with severe epilepsy.

Epilepsy Foundation of America ( focus on advocacy and quality of life & access to treatments for people with epilepsy.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network ( largely by and for autistic people, goals are equal access for all neurodivergent people, supporting legislation that benefits all PWDs, "nothing about us without us".

Three of my favorites.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKassiane

Someone (perhaps more than one- didn't read all 1300 comments-wow!) mentioned Heifer, International and I want to throw my support with that organization. Thanks for doing this. You're amazing!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaryann

The Crisis Pregnacy Center - It is a special charity that helps expecting Mom's through the stages of pregnacy and parenthood, and encourages those who are considering aborting their babies, to keep them. The big goal for our local CPC is to raise enough to buy a ultrasound machine because statistics show 90% of women who get to see their baby will want to keep them. This is (as far as I know) a national (USA) organization.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

One charity I am really impressed with is LDS Humanitarian Services. (Website:,19749,6208,00.html)
They are a service dedicated to bettering lives of individuals in as many ways as possible. This includes emergency responses (Humanitarian services has shipped over 61,308 tons of food to over 50 countries from 1985 to 2008), measles vaccinations, neonatal resuscitation training, providing wheelchairs to disabled individuals who can't afford them, and providing vision treatment to visually impared individuals throughout the world. 100% of all donations to LDS Humanitarian services go toward helping individuals in need. It really is a great organization!


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I nominate Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).

Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS is the nation's leading industry based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. We fund the social service work of The Actors Fund and award grants twice a year to AIDS service organizations nationwide. With your help, what we do together will make a difference.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy

Don't know if it's in there in the 1336 comments, but I can't recommend highly enough Kiva (; strictly not a "charity" unless you donate to them directly, but rather a microfinance group where you can donate in $25 increments to entrepreneurs. Perhaps even bakeries!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarnie

My absolute favorite charity is by Penny Arcade of PAX fame. It sounds silly, but it's a wonderful thing. Every dollar donated to PAX goes towards donating game consoles, games, books, and toys to kids that are in the hospital. These items help the kids take their minds off the drugs, the pain, and the scariness of what they're going through and help them be kids again...just for a little while. For more information,

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

My son was born at 32 weeks and was on a ventilator for 11 days. He got RSV at 6 weeks old and nearly died again. The March of Dimes raises money to ensure that healthy babies are born. I really respect that organization and would love for them to have a 200 dollar donation. From a very blessed mother of a preemie that survived with only asthma as a result I think they are a worthy cause.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

this is Matt Jones, of Starry Nights Catering & Events, who did the "3-tier purple iris cake with piping" cake for your Seattle Cake Wrecks party.

My wife and I are passionate about Seattle's Farestart ( This great organization takes homeless people, spends 6 weeks teaching them restaurant skills, then gets them hired in the community. We have a Farestart grad working in our kitchen- their grads are amazing, and Farestart changes their lives. Every Thursday night the Farestart Restaurant in Seattle hosts Guest Chef Night, where a local chef comes in, and with the help of all the students, makes a 3-course meal for the night's clientele. I've been a Guest Chef for 3 years now (my 2010 gig is in April!). It's the least I can do for this amazing organization. That, and get you to give them money!!!!

I'd like to add a vote for Kiva, the charity donation that keeps on donating. 100% of your donation goes directly to the people who need it. Maybe you'll get lucky and find someone trying to start up a bakery!

Another charity that's close to my heart is the Michael J. Fox Foundation.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

One of the causes I am incredibly devoted to is To Write Love on Her Arms. Their vision is simple: the help depressed, suicidal, hurting and addicted people, especially youth, who have no outlet to seek help without embarrassment. Each of their regular tee shirts has the story that started it all printed inside and the designs are truly uplifting. They do all this without incriminating anyone or making anyone feel pity. Rescue is possible is their main idea and helping this cause would help many people who felt they had no options.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

After reading 1341 comments, I am in awe of whomever needs to read them all the time!

I wanted to suggest an organization that has not yet been mentioned... the Water School.

They have found a way to purify the water by using the sun, it's very cool!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Bear Necessities is a great Chicago based charity grants wishes for children in Illinois with cancer. They also provide families with money for essentials such as gas, groceries, and bills, and donate thousands of dollars to cancer research every year. This is a wonderful organization, and winner of a Best Independent Charities of America award. You can find out more about them at

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen L.

I'd love to donate, but being in Australia, my credit card charges me several dollars in fees for any international transaction. So giving $1 to each of 20 different charities doesn't make sense. Instead I'll see which of your charities I like the look of most and donate one larger sum to that one.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachelH

I don't know if anyone else has posted this already; but I donate to The Elephant Sanctuary ( They're a sanctuary in Tennesee, that is recognized as the largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered Asian and African elephants. You can sponsor a specific elephant, buy them specific foods or treats, or donate toward 'the girls' as a whole. They're an amazing group and I'm proud to be a sponsor! --Jennifer M., Las Vegas, NV

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Reece's Rainbow is a charity that helps find adoptive homes for children with special needs from miserable conditions in overseas orphanages. If not adopted many will become institutionalized & die from neglect. Here is a link to this very worthy charity:

thanks & great idea!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Dogs4Diabetics!! They provide and train dogs to alert when a diabetic goes low. Diabetics can't enjoy the tasty creations of the world's wreckorators, but their lives can be changed and even saved by man's best friend.

Sumiko Clark

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClark Family

My family and I support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. My cousin died of CF at 19, which is much longer than she would have had, were it not for the CFF.

And this is a great idea. Thanks!


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAna

The Myasthenia Gravis Foundation
Muscular Dystrophy
Cerebral Palsy,
and any foundation that supports people who don't necessarily have life threatening diseases but must live with something that severely impacts their lives and the lives of those who care for them. These foundations make it possible for better medications, treatments and resources needed for patients with diseases they have to live with every day, to not only survive but thrive!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Awesome :]
Girl Effect is really great. Watch their video and you'll know why. They are all about empowering and giving opportunities to girls in developing countries because they know those girls will be able to effect many more after them. A gift that keeps on giving.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTasha

WOW!!! Awesome. I checked cakewrecks this morning and promptly donated, but i just logged in again to see how many other people did, and i've been blown away! I'm so proud to be part of a group that cares so much! You and John should be Incredibly proud of yourselves for pulling us together and using your "power" for good.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKirstie Rulka

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