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 husband and I met working together with this mission:

Also, this NPO helps support doctors, nurses, PAs, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists ALL OVER THE WORLD!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber Joy

There are three that my students and I work with regularly:

Habitat for Humanity, especially in Wake County, NC (, which works with people to strengthen families through partnerships providing financial education as well as home ownership. As an area where the median home price is out of reach for even many middle class workers, Habitat provides means towards stability for the families it serves.

Backpack Buddies, through Inter-faith Food Shuttle ( The Backpack Buddies program provides 6 meals and 2 healthy snacks in a normal-looking backpack to elementary aged students who live in homes where meals on the weekends are not a given. Kids pick up the backpacks on Friday, full of food, then bring them back empty on Monday.

Ubuntu Sports Outreach ( Is a mentoring-through-soccer program in S. Africa that is reaching out to boys and young men in poor townships in Cape Town, especially with the vision of strengthening them physically, academically, and spiritually, and then encouraging them to invest their skills in their community.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBethanie

Soldiers Angels

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Can't go wrong with St. Vincent de Paul. They help pay rent, utilities, bus fare & even mortgage payments. Vouchers to their stores are given for free clothing, shoes, furniture & household goods. Many have food banks open to all, with no questions.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda

There is NO WAY I can go back and read all the comments before posting, so I may be suggesting something that has already been said. But if so, oh well, it's charity.

My first thought is Child's Play, which gives toys and books to hospitals for children.

"Child's Play is a charitable organization founded by the authors of the popular computer and video games-based webcomic Penny Arcade that organizes worldwide toy drives to children's hospitals. Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins founded Child's Play in 2003 to improve the lives of sick children by donating toys and games to hospitals worldwide."

They donate 100% of anything you give to the charity, and they are really passionate about it.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith Lucas

Humane Society of Missouri - They are responsible for bringing down the country's largest dog ring AND for taking care of the 500 dogs that were saved from those fighters.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I would like to nominate It is a wonderful charity working with families in Guatemala.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla Kibbee

First of all, GREAT IDEA. And I LOVE St Jude's. Most of my favorite organizations have been mentioned in the comments, but a couple unique ones that haven't:

First, The Childeren's Room
focuses on support for kids and teens that have lost loved ones.

Also, since we are all a bit "arty", The Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the Arts and Business Council. Each state has one, so you can donate to your own state.

that's the link for the MA organization. They provide free or low cost legal help to struggling artists, as well as business help through seminars, panels and just local business people donating time to help art based start up companies :)

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa Gill

Makula Fund for Children - supports children impacted by HIV/AIDS in Uganda get access to education and nutrition. 100% of the funds raised go to help the children as it's an entirely volunteer run by the Board of Directors.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMandi

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

I try to run a charity notice in October to help them, but it's been slow going and so I've been keeping it up year round.

While I do not live with the scars of such incidents, there are many who do, including my good friend who lost someone to domestic violence. Anything anyone can do to help them would be wonderful and appreciated.

- Tazzy

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Facing The World is a super duper organization that provides facial reconstructive surgery for children in countries where the surgery is unavailable or unaffordable. It goes beyond just fixing cleft palates, they do some major reconstructive surgeries for kids. They rock. The website is

Liz N.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

For people wanting to use paypal for the donation, I think they can send it as a gift and paypal doesn't take fees on that.

I'm all for the animals so anything to help them.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosie

Heifer project totally rocks - helping people in need live independent lives and help their community also.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I would like to suggest another project for Africa:
Blood:Water Mission empowers communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Find out how you can get involved.

I also recommend To Write Love On Her Arms - this is a true grass-roots movement and charity that reaches out to people who self-mutilate.

The charity I contribute to by sponoring an orphan is Watoto...this is an organization that raises and educates children whose parents have died due to AIDS and civil war in Uganda, Africa. They also have an amazing outreach to the boy soldiers of that area, as well as a traveling children's choir. Please see them at

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Some of my favorite charities are:
Riley Children's Hospital.
In Indianapolis. Like St. Jude, it specializes in childhood cancer, but it's an awesome and regional hospital. (I helped out there in college.)

PAWS Atlanta
A no-kill shelter that takes injured animals, too, and gets them the treatment they need.

DeKalb Rape Crisis Center
Local women's center. (I help with their jewelry sale, and they take paypal.)

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPalila

After contributing $1 I got an email that said I'd get a receipt in the mail soon. With postage and paper, that dollar will be significantly cut. Is there any way we can opt out of receipts in this and future donations?

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Please consider Curesearch or Alex's Lemonade Stand as one of your charities. They fund research for pediatric cancers, which is an area largely overlooked by other cancer research charities.

Congress passed a bill to allocate $30 million to pediatric cancer research this year and then the appropriations committee failed to fund it. They funded some ridiculous pork barrel projects and not one dime for the children.

As the mother of a child that fought cancer twice in the first 6 years of her life, this is something I am absolutely passionate about. Too many children are dying because nobody is funding research to save them.

Thank you!!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie and watch the short video.

It's a small nonprofit outside of Nashville, TN offering pediatric therapies to children as well as an inclusive preschool program. Children with and without special needs learn and grow in the same classrooms from birth through age 6. Early intervention is imperative for future success for children with special needs, and the children without special needs learn compassion and leadership from a very early age. It's a win/win!

I think it's great that you are doing this. If you have any other questions, you can contact me at

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKelly Rose

I too love I love the "teach a man to fish" philosophy. The fact that one gift can keep on giving for generations is really inspiring to me.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAutumnBrooke

Hi Everybody,

I have two organizations to offer up, that really need your donations.

First off -

It has been mentioned before. It's an organization that offers micro loans to people in impoverished places all over the world, so that they can start up their business.

Second, its Sea Shepherd -

This is an organization that conserves marine wildlife - particularly defending Whales from Japanese whale hunting ships. Their motto is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVeronika

I'll happily join in with the donating, but I'll also put forth my idea of donating to the" rel="nofollow">Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

For the past decade, I've been in charge of" rel="nofollow">my school's campaign to raise funds for the LLS, and I have come to know the society in many ways and to see the good that they do, particularly in counseling and providing financial assistance to families stricken with blood cancers.

They also fund huge amounts of research into curing blood cancers of all types.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPHSChemGuy

I'd like to suggest a great charity that I support, called Smile Train. Smile Train uses 100% of your donations to do cleft lip and palate surgeries for children in poor countries who could never afford it. These children and their families are often considered cursed, outcast, the kids are ridiculed, etc. Fixing cleft lips and palates is life changing for them!

-Ann H.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnn H.

For the past few years my husband and I have asked that our family donate to Fisher House ( in our name instead of buying us Christmas presents...and we are more excited to receive that letter than anything material present.
Fisher House provides free or low cost housing to families of recovering soldiers. It's a great charity, and one more way to support our troops!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I vote for Children's Miracle Network or Make-A-Wish. Both organizations that have helped my daughter, Cici. Or, the ARC.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterferfischer

I don't know if anyone has mentioned The Liz Logelin Foundation ( which gives money to newly widowed parents to help them with expenses. I'm sure you must have heard about this though, as the founder (Liz's widower) Matt Logelin has been all over the media and has a huge following of his blog. Anyway, that's my idea.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbridget

I hope you will consider the Ronald McDonald houses. They have been such a help to families whose children are in the hospital.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have suggestion for a candidate for your fund raiser but first a story. I lived in East Africa in Uganda last summer and worked extensively with a small village in the south called Lugazi Town. Since returning home I have not felt entirely whole, almost like I have survivors guilt and I got out and left my friends behind. Just now when I donated to the charity you suggested it gave me such a sense of peace. The same peace that I pray returns to Africa. Uganda has been through a lot of turmoil over the last 40 years but you would never know it by the people. I have made some of my dearest friends there and am so honored to know and love them. I went with an organization called HELP International and loved my time with them. They are a small organization so I'm not sure if your donations would seriously overwhelm them, but I used them specifically for their smallness since they are compact enough that almost 100% of the money goes straight to the need. They use volunteers who raise their own living and traveling expenses so the rest of the money goes to the actual projects. They are going to three new countries this year, Belize, India, and Thailand and already have programs open in El Salvador, Fiji, and Uganda. They also have paypal as a donation resource so check them out:

Thanks for reading and thank you for giving me the opportunity to give.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSeren

My favorite organization is Special Friends Foundation (http://www. Special friends was created to help assist families who are affected by Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. My son is one of them. Austin Nieman (7 yrs) was born with RTS and our family has benefited from this foundation. There are only 1000 known cases of RTS in the WORLD so there is very little research and awareness of it.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I think this is a great idea. It looks like you have a huge number of charity suggestions (most of which I already give/have given to). If someone hasn't already mentioned it, please consider Sarcoma cancer is not frequently in the media, but sarcoma cancer is one of the hardest to diagnose and has the lowest survival rate. Most sarcoma patients are children, but adults can develop it too-- my mom passed away after battling sarcoma cancer for 8 years, having never gone into remission. She was 47 and left behind 4 children, ages 12 through 20. All types of cancer are horrific and change our lives and families.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous Money goes to support the Kopila Valley Childrens' home in Nepal. This orphanage was started by a young woman from NJ -- she runs the orphanage to house children who have been orphaned by war. Maggie graduated from high school and bought the land for this orphanage a year later in 2006!!

My family supports this charity, as do many of the local Girl Scout troops who have had Maggie come and speak to them about the Children's home.


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiesl G.

I would like to suggest The Olympic Animal Sanctuary whose motto is We save dogs you would rather see dead. Of course, these animals have become what they are due to human influence, and don't deserve to be killed regardless of what they do. I wish Oreo, the dog that survived being thrown off a roof but was then put down due to aggressive behavior, could have gone to Steve Markwell instead.

I think we should extend this to a year of giving. I think all the suggestions are great, and I couldn't pick just a handful. Good luck with that!


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

American Cancer Society!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulianne

I'm a little late. Just got back on here after a bout of having a child in the hospital. Anyway, hopefully I'm not too late to make a suggestion. I'm fond of the Juvenile Diabetes foundation, being a juvenile onset diabetic myself...

Katie D.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My favorite charity is the Global Fund for Women:

It gives small grants to grassroots women's organizations around the world. From capital cities to the most remote rural villages, these groups work to improve economic security, health, and access to education, increase women's leadership, and stop violence against women in their communities.

(And some of these groups are located in countries like Afghanistan -- places where the whole world might be better off if civil society were strengthened. There's a lot of research out there showing that women are critical to resolving the development and security issues we face.)

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I spent some time in Africa a few years ago volunteering with an organization call Alliance for Children Everywhere. They run "crisis nurseries" for children who have lost their parents (mostly to AIDS). The sweet thing about them is that their goal isn't to be a long term orphanage for these kids but to get them adopted back out into families and then supporting those families so they can take care of that extra child. They also have some schools that they work with local churches to make affordable so kids can actually go to them. Here's there website:

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

This is a great idea! I know of a wonderful non-profit that would be perfect for this. African Sky ( is an amazing organization working with communities in Mali to improve health, education, and food security.


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Two suggestions:
1)" rel="nofollow">Habitat for Humanity - this one has probably already been suggested. Great work being done for local families as well as those overseas in need of housing.

2)" rel="nofollow">Reece's Rainbow - This organization does a lot for children with Down Syndrome in foreign countries, especially orphans. They specializing in aiding parents in the US wanting to adopt DS children from orphanages around the world. And they accept Paypal!!!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSharon M

How about SMYAL, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League? They help LGBTQ teens (such as if their parents disown them).

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMackenzie

I would like to nominate "Know Resolve" a non profit organization. It is a phenomenal youth suicide prevention and awareness oganization.
In just a few short years it has had an incredible impact on teen suicide prevetnion and is saving lives daily!
You can learn more about this worthy organization at
Jean Larch

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermgl29

I adore Cake Wrecks. I love that you are helping wage war against embitterment and providing some much needed laughter.

I am also passionate about a wonderful organization serving families in extreme poverty in Guatemala called "Mayan Families". They provide food relief, education, run medical clinics and more, all on a shoestring budget with a very small team. Please consider them for your list!

Rock on, Cake Wrecks!


December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

Can I suggest the March of Dimes or the Armed Forces Foundation?

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What a fantastic idea. Will you please consider Smile Train as one of your charities? Smile Train is the world's largest and most effective cleft charity - they help more children than all similar charities combined.

The cleft surgery your donation provides is a true, modern-day medical miracle: it costs as little as $250 to give a desperate child not just a new smile, but a new life.

Kate K.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkate.kniffen

Feed My Starving Children. (

-Amanda F.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Dalit freedom network. the dalit are an outcast portion of the indian society. if you don't know, india has a caste system. the highest caste are the wealthy people. the lowest are the poor. outside of the caste system are the dalit. they're taught that they were made from the dust beneath allah's feet, and that they're not worth anything. they do the worst tasks, like cleaning litter up and serving the upper castes. they're treated worse than animals. they're taught that God doesn't love them, and that they're worthless, not even human. the money donated would go to building and funding a school for dalit children, where they could learn english and other important business skills, as well as be given a meal every day.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercodongolev

I would love to give to the Ronald McDonald House. When I was 12 my family and I were on vacation and we had a car accident. I was the only on seriously injured and had to be life flighted to a hospital hundreds of miles away. The Ronald McDonald House was a heaven sent place for my family to stay while I as in the hospital. They are amazing! They provide housing, food, clothing and transportation to the families that stay there while their children are sick or injured in the hospital. They do amazing things!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny G.

I'd like to submit Ronald McDonald House Charites. It's an amazing place for familes to stay while their children are in the hospital. I'm staying at one in Denver CO at the moment while my preemie son is in the hospital. He was born at 24 weeks ( 1 pound 15 oz ) in Riverton WY and sent to a hospital here. I dont what I would have done if I couldnt be here with him. We've been here for 2 1/2 months so far and are hoping to be home in a month. Please help more famlies be able to stay with near their sick children.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Jen/John, I applaud your charity initiative. Every year I check out a pile of charities before deciding where to send my (limited) donations. After reading through the ~1450 comments that have been posted, I now have about 75 new charities to investigate!

While Charity Navigator is the best tool for checking out charities, I also use
American Institute of Philanthropy
National Charities Information Bureau
and which allows GuideStar searching.

I have noticed that some of the oft-nominated charities are among those that receive very poor marks from the charity-rating organizations, so I agree with those who have encouraged you to check out the charities you're considering using as part of this initiative.

Among those charities mentioned in the comments are several that I support. Two small nonprofits that have impressed me over the past year are
(1) institute for agriculture and food policy,
They do research on food safety, sustainable/scalable agricultural practices, policy reform, etc.
(2) Center for Biological Diversity,
This one has been mentioned before (but only once!).

Finally, I'm sure you have more than 14 faves among the zillion charities that have been nominated here. If you're keeping track of which ones you like, perhaps you could list/link them in a post when this is all over? Then folks who would like to donate further but don't want to read through 1500 comments could get some guidance.

Yay for your awesomeness!

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersmbelcas

I've been diabetic since I was 11 (22 now) and my cousin has been diabetic since she was 2 years old. She's 15 now. If CW could give to a charity to benefit people with diabetes, that would be so fantastic.

Another idea would be a charity that benefits people with MS. My friend's mom has had MS for years. He loves her more than anything and does all that he can to help and care for her.

Sorry I don't have any charities names! I only know the associations (such as Canadian Diabetes Association).

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVixxen

I'm a big fan of Oxfam, and that's where our Christmas gift budget goes every year now (we still buy gifts for the children in the family -- nieces/nephews -- but not the grownups). They are devoted to finding lasting solutions to poverty and injustice worldwide.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Guskin

You probably have tons of suggestions, but here's another one to consider: Stop Child Trafficking Now ( They're a newer organization, and their goal is to be able to send teams of former Navy Seals into suspected brothels in the US where young girls are being sexually trafficked. They're a great bunch of people and their cause is amazing.

December 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

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