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) is the research foundation committed to helping families with a horrible skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa. This is the worst disease you've never heard of. It mostly effects children and is usually fatal.

For more information please visit

There is no treatment for this disease and there is no current cure. EB sufferers are usually wrapped head to toe in bandages like a mummy because even the slightest friction (even a hug) can tear the skin leaving the person covered in wounds compared to 3rd degree burns.

We need help, we need funding and we need a cure!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanel Waters

I love this idea. Okay, maybe I won't buy my traditional gift to myself this year (hmm... was going to be the Cake Wrecks book), but I think this is a great idea.

The places where I volunteer/support etc:
American Red Cross - obvious. They do so much and have some of the lowest overhead.
The Measles Initiative - one dollar can provide a measles vaccine. 450 people die from measles every DAY.
American Cancer Society - My dad died from cancer. I've got cancer susceptible genes. This is a big deal for me.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta - kids get sick. Not for profit hospital. I volunteer there and it's just.. amazing.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

my suggestions are:
the MS society
local pet shelters (not the ASPCA, as cash sent to the national org doesn't filter down to the actual shelters)
local food banks
also, if your local branch of the VA accepts donations, PLEASE consider them.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfalnfenix

St. Jude Children's Hospital is a great one, and especially close to my heart right now since one of my best friend's sons will be starting treatment there on Monday. They have done amazing things for children's cancer research.

Thanks for doing this - what a great way to celebrate the true meaning of this season!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkacyd

Oh, and also for Alzheimer's research. I honestly don't know any specific charities for it, but I'd love to see money go there.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTwirly McSwirl

Awesome idea. I'm a frugal nut and not pleased with the mass consumption that comes this time of year either.

Looking forward to your other charitable selections. I personally won't do any religious-based ones because of my pro-choice, pro-gay-rights stances, and I'm not keen on anything war-related, but I'll give to most other environmental, social justice, kids, and animal causes (well, not PETA, but most other animal causes).

If there's a non-religious homeless shelter or assistance group in your area, that might be worth looking into, since it's cold out there right now.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Chapman

Oh yeah! I wanted to say thanks for doing this too!

I agree with other people's suggestions of Heifer International, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society.
The V-DAY Campaign started by Eve's Ensler is one of my favorite charities ever. All proceeds go to stop violence against women all over the world.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEm

Please donate to Debra ( My daughter is 2 years old and has this disease. Debra has done wonderful things for us and they help countless families across America.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

The Fistula Foundation is one organization that I would love to donate to.

Mercy Corps is one that I give to regularly.

Eastern Tibetan Training Institute is one that I'll be visiting and possibly collaborating with in a few months.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElisa

Doctors Without Borders

I won't use PayPal either. Hope there is another way to contribute to these charities.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous


I was also going to suggest the American Cancer Society, since most of us know someone who has been affected by the horrors of cancer.

I was reading through the comments and read the one person who said they are goign through a foreclosure and won't be able to buy gifts for their children this year. That's when I thought about Toys for Tots, it's the perfect holiday organization!

You guys are doing a wonderful thing and as a long time reader, I think you just solidified why many of us check your blog each day. Yes, the cakes are funny, the comments are even funnier, but your spirits are the best!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShawna Fay

This is a great way to let others know of good charities to donate a little to this holiday season. My charity of choice this year is Every $10 get you a chance to win a prize while you are helping to build a school in Cambodia.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Kudos for a wonderful campaign! I reiterate the other poster's recommendation to check out Charity Navigator before donating; it's a wonderful site.

My suggested charities:

The American Hospice Foundation


Thanks for the inspiration and daily laughs! Best, MK

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMK

Where many of my charity dollars go:

Susan Komen Foundation or other breast cancer-related charities - in honor of my grandmother who had breast cancer and several of my former classmates who have been battling the disease the last few years (we're only 35!)

National MS Foundation - in honor of my sister-in-law who has the disease

Autism Speaks - a condition becoming more and more prevalent in children, most treatments are not covered by insurance, leaving parents heavily in debt


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I would like to join in the push for the National MS Society. My mother, grandfather, cousin's wife and several other family friends all have this debilitating disease and to further research into treatment and a cure is always on our minds.

Also, something that promotes research for Pancreatic Cancer is on my heart. I haven't done enough research to see what Pancreatic Cancer associations are the most legitimate, so I'd hate to suggest a company that wouldn't be a good one.

Also, for all of the charity minded people out there: look at Goodsearch is a search engine much like Google, but for every search that you do the charity of your choice gets 1 cent. It may not seem like a lot, but think about how many times you search for something in a day, a week, or a month. A lot of pennies grows into quite a bit of money (and you don't have to spend any).

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustina Clayburn

Wow. What an inspiring idea. Thank you, thank you for challenging the consumer culture! My husband and I moved away from gift-giving years ago and just started giving to charities.

In addition to groups doing great work fighting poverty at home and abroad, we give most of our money to a group working to change the system on behalf of victims of war: The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict" rel="nofollow"> CIVIC not only is responsible for establishing U.S. government funds to help the victims of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but is also working to change the international rules so that warring parties are responsible for ensuring that they help the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

please consider the B+ foundation (
they raise money for the families of those battling childhood cancers, all in the name of an amazing boy, Andrew, who was lost in July 2007. This money goes to help pay bills and other expenses so parents can focus, instead, on getting their children healthy again. Pediatric cancers are extremely widespread, but the research into curing these diseases is enormously underfunded.

It's an amazing charity, please please please check it out!
-Caitlin (Wilmington, DE)

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlin

May I suggest 3 of my favorite charities.

Rescue Ink
Tough guys with heart who rescue abused animals.

Save The Chimps
Provides a sanctuary for chimps who've spent their lives behind bars in research labs.

Room To Read
Builds schools and libraries in the developing world. Providing education for millions of kids.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

I don't have any money to donate, but there's this website called FreeRice. It's an online game, and as you play, for every question you get right, the website will donate ten grains of rice to the hungry. Best of all, it's free to play, and you don't need to register- just open the website and start playing. There are subjects to choose from, and multiple choice answers for each subjects questions. I'm using some of my time to play- that's my donation. You can sponsor the website organization too! So, if you need ideas, well....

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Groups I feel really deserve a little extra blunt for being awesome:

The Humane Society: I have never had anything but good experiences with them. They treat the animals they take in well, AND the people coming to look at the animals. The Humane Society where I used to live actually managed to raise enough money to build a new set-up that didn't have kitties closed in 2x2' cages, and it would be wonderful if all of them could do the same.

Seva Foundation: They do all kinds of great stuff in under-developed countries...they don't just throw some food at impoverished areas, they give education (not of the missionary variety) and medical care. They do a lot that really helps in a way that isn't just short-term.

Your local library: without the library, I might not have survived my childhood and teens, and from what I know, libraries never have enough money to go around.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstr4y

This is a great idea, Jen and John. I may not have a lot to give, but I can do a dollar a day for a while. Thanks for setting this up.

Here are some of my favorite charities:

Save the Children

Compassion International

Habitat for Humanity

Heifer Project

Susan G. Komen Foundation

National MS Society

And, I know it's kind of local but the Oregon Humane Society just rescued almost 200 dogs in the last week from two horrible situations. They could use all the help they can get to get these dogs healthy and adoptable.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlynellenyl

Doctors without Borders is one of my favorites. I also give regularly to Habit for Humanity, March of Dimes, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. There are so many worthy causes out there. What a fabulous idea!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia

Totally awesome idea!

PEAS - Promoting Equality in African Schools - gives free education to children in Uganda who otherwise would have to go to work.

Sarah xx

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah, Blackheath (main page) (Fact page)

Since a lot of people have already mentioned the ASPCA (which is only one shelter in New York, not a national shelter - common misconception) I'd like to also nominate the HSPCA (Houston SPCA) because they do so much work and help hundreds of thousands of animals/livestock/exotic animals and their animal cops team covers 8,000 square miles. They also are always right in the middle of the hurricane relief efforts rescuing animals - when Rita struck they helped take in animals at the Astrodome for temporary housing and also went to New Orleans and surrounding areas to rescue animals and they did the same thing after Ike.

I think this is a GREAT idea and cannot wait to see all the wonderful charities that get support! :)

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

Please support Doctors Without Boarders. They go to the worst of the worst war zones, even when other organisations pull out. They treat anyone in need regardless of who they are and what they do.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love to donate to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It's a non-profit group of children's hospitals that provide top rate care for children and families even if they can't pay for the services. The people at this organization really do change the lives of these children and their families.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wow....that really is an excellent way to help a whole lot of people! I've been doing more giving this year too -- my kids and I bought 10 ducks from World Vision's gift catalog that will be helping our 2 needy families somewhere by providing eggs and ducklings that they can sell.

I recently heard about Child's Play -- it buys games and game systems for children's hospitals all over the world.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Lots of the charities already suggested sound awesome so I don't really want to add any, since I'd like to see some of these charities get all the money they can.

Can I just request, however, that you avoid any religious and/or political charities (including military family charities), as you will be likely to alienate some people and run the risk of not being able to support a charity the way you really want to!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This is FANTASTIC! I LOVe it! I wish more people would do this for the holiday.s and all year around!

Literacy Bridge is a small non-profit that's just getting started, but it's really doing great things! Please take a look and see if you agree:

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Project Peanut Butter (food themed)

Environmental Working Group

Those are my picks!


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This is a great family who has made lemonade from lemons. Jake won his battle with cancer. This foundation helps families impacted by pediatric cancer. Very worthy cause.


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I'd recommend Aiducational International --

Aiducation gives merit-based secondary school scholarships to students in Kenya. They accept pay-pal, and 100% of your donation goes towards funding the school costs.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

According to the World Health Organization’s 2001 estimates, sexual and reproductive health problems account for 18% of the total global burden of disease, and 32% of the burden among women of reproductive age worldwide. Each year, over 530,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth; most of these deaths are avoidable. Three million people die each year from AIDS. Almost all of these deaths occur in the developing world.

Marie Stopes International provides vital sexual and reproductive health services to some of the world's poorest people. Their work has transformed the lives of millions of women, protected the health of tens of millions more and is making an important contribution to the reduction of global poverty. They are one of the largest international family planning organizations in the world. In 2007 alone, they provided over five million people in 40 countries with high-quality health services, including family planning; safe abortion & post-abortion care; maternal & child health care including safe delivery and obstetrics; diagnosis & treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases; and HIV/AIDS prevention. They work in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, Pacific and South Asia--40 countries in all.

Around the world, Marie Stopes International Partners have become major players in national health systems. In Tanzania and Malawi, the organization provides nearly 20% of all family planning services. In Bangladesh, they have over 120 clinics and rural outreach teams throughout the country, protecting over one million women per year from unwanted pregnancy. In Afghanistan, Marie Stopes International works closely with three government ministries to provide sexual and reproductive health services to more than 435,000 people; offer outreach services to more than 182,000 women; train more than 1,000 health professionals; and promote the rights of women.

Marie Stopes International’s services are delivered through clinics (including mobile clinics), rural outreach teams, community volunteers, social marketing and franchising, work-based initiatives, peer education programs, community based-activities, and refugee/IDP camps.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLian

FABulous idea! (and for PayPal only folks, I used the paypal browser plugin to donate without any problems).

My youngest was born with CHD, so the Children's Heart Foundation is my cause of choice.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey L King

Heifer International, March of Dimes.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLady in Waiting

A project close to my heart is Breaking Ground ( which I watched go from just my roommate wishing she could build a better school while teaching English in Cameroon, to a fully blown non-profit for sustainable, grassroots change in that country. It is still a fairly new organization, and any help it receives would make a huge difference.

What she and her friends have made happen there is amazing. Proof that anyone and everyone really can start saving the world!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPhoebe

I vote for "One Million Can"!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterapril

Saving Little Hearts
Congenital Heart Defects are the #1 birth defect in newborns! After our son was diagnosed with complex CHDs, we joined - they do some great things....they put together care packages for families with extended hospital stays - perfect for the holiday season!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSullivan's Mom

My first favorite charity organization is Miracles in Motion, which is a riding center for disabled students in Iowa. It is an amazing organization. The students love the horses, and the horses love them back! I have volunteered there for many years (all through high school), which means getting up at 6:30 am each Saturday morning, but it was so worth it. The volunteers are amazing and the classes are very rewarding. You can see improvements in your student. I have been moved to tears when we have a student say their first "Walk on" or even the first time they hold the reins for the whole class. If you want more information please go to

My second favorite organization is Chefs for Schools. CHEFs stands for cheap, healthy, eco-friendly food. The organization promotes healthy eating habits for all people, but especially focusing on disadvantaged people in New York City. The organization is just starting to get up and running, but it is a community partner with the Food Bank For New York City. For more information please see

Thank you for doing this it is a wonderful thing. As a college student just trying to make ends meat I will not be able to participate in the donate a dollar a day, but I like to think I more than make up for it with the time I spend volunteering. Volunteers are one of the hardest thing for organizations to get, sometimes even harder than money! If you cannot donate your money, don't feel bad, just donate your time!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLexy Zimba

I'd like to recommend United Way. They do great work. I volunteer at our local Crisis Center, which is a United Way organization. The Crisis Center includes a Crisis and Suicide line, Senior Line (for lonely elderly people), Teen Link and Kid's Help Line, and Rape Response Line. A lot of our calls come from people who don't have the resources and support that many of us take for granted. It's really an important organization that helps a lot of people.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Q.

I vote for the Kyle David Miller Foundation. After their 3 year old son was tragically killed in a car accident when the seat belt holding him into his booster seat failed, his family started the foundation as a way to promote proper car seat safety and to give 5-point harness car seats (which are safer than regular seat belts - that's why race car drivers wear them!) to needy families.

In today's western society the majority of families travel on the roadways and far too many children are sitting in inadequate or misused seats. An estimated 85-90% of all car seats are installed or used improperly, and as a result hundreds of children are seriously injured or killed due to completely preventable misuse. Current laws protect children only to a minimum, and by offering and promoting extended use 5-point harness seats, the Kyle David Miller Foundation is helping to keep our children safer for longer.

- Nani S.
Mom to an extended rear-facing 16 month old girl, and an extended 5-point harnessed 5.5 year old boy.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNani

I would like to recommend StopDiabetes from The American Diabetes Association (I didn't notice if anyone else had mentioned it before.)


When my husband was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes last January, we had no idea what we were up against. Neither one of us had ever dealt with diabetes or diabetes related illnesses (since then we have learned that he has a long family history of diabetes and that his diagnosis was almost inevitable.)
So we turned to the internet and found the ADA website. From there we were able to find TONS of information and tools that he uses every day to LIVE with his diabetes, not just exist. We use the things we have learned to be pro-active about his health, and we couldn't have done it without the ADA. (Well, we probably could have, but they have the largest amount of info packed into one space.)

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPinkCupcakeArts

May I humbly suggest that Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, which raises money to research a cure for Spinal Muscular Atrophy? SMA was recently deemed to be one of the top ten(if I remember correctly) diseases close to being cured.

You can read more at:

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDays

Make a Wish Foundation- they give dying children's dreams come true!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Ronald McDonald House charities. We stayed at one while our 5-month-old son was in the hospital for heart surgery. I don't know what we would have done without it ... and we were only there for a week! Some people are there for months.It was a godsend to be able to do there and get a little sleep or a decent meal.
Now, we donate baked goods (no Wrecks ... I think :) as often as possible.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

This February will be my third year leading a group of middle and high schoolers to raise money for 30 Hour Famine from World Vision. All around the world teenagers spend 30 hours together fasting, raising money, learning about poverty, especially in other countries. All the money collected goes to provide food, education, clean drinking water, health care, and help make people self sufficient not only in other countries, but in the US as well. Just $1 a day can feed someone for that day. You can also sponsor a child and buy livestock and seed for people as well. It is a wonderful charity and I love the fact that teenagers have played such a large role in it. The websites are and I am also on the board for a new charity called North Country Animal Assisted Therapeutic Program. We use horses and other animals such as dogs to provide people with disabilities therapy free of charge in Michigan. Seeing what a huge difference therapeutic riding can make in someone's life is just amazing. We are also wanting to start treating soldiers with various disabilities, including PTSD. Many soldiers in more rural areas of the country don't get the treatment they need because the care the government provides is too far away. We don't have a website, but if you are interested in learning more about therapeutic riding, there are some wonderful websites out there that have some great videos and information.


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

Please, Please, Please donate to The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. You can even donate to my family's team...The Fox-Lucidi Team in Jefferson County, NY. There have been multiple members of our blended family that we have lost and are supporting as they battle different cancers. This one is the nearest and dearest to my heart.


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OK, my own personal charity reco: the Magic Foundation
My son has a growth hormone deficiency which requires us to give him daily injections. He's 3, so this is not as easy as it sounds. The Magic Foundation is devoted to children with all kinds of growth problems, and they are a great resource for those parents with these special children. Yes, I'm extremely passionate about this...

they can be found at

Thanks! Kim

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimmad

My twin boys were born at 24 weeks and we are extremely blessed that they are happy, healthy 15 month olds today. I cannot say enough about the March of Dimes. Without the research they support and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)Family Support Program, I do not believe my boys (or my sanity) would be here today.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDana

I have to second (or third or fourth...) Not only do they give animals to help people get continuous food & income, but recipients then pass along animals to others who are in need. My husband and I have started buying whatever animals we can at Christmas in honor of our friends and tell them that when we send them their Christmas card :)

There are so many other good ones, too, though...

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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