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...

« I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream For Icing! | Main | Chappy Chanukah »

Reader Comments (1529)

I gave a dollar, but mostly because the only extra cash I have is in a paypal account, so that payment option made a difference for me.
I hope we can make a difference!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Svedberg

I'm a big fan of the Electronics Frontier Foundation. They really impress me and I'm so glad they exist...


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

The American Red Cross.

SIX DAYS after my son was born, a tornado ripped thru our town and hit our house. The Red Cross provided us with clothes, diapers, baby bath, lotion, shampoo, etc. for him and food and clothes and other basics as well as vouchers to purchase other essentials for hubby and me. I don't know what we would have done without them stepping in so quickly and making sure the area families had what they needed. Therefore they are near and dear to my heart.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAJ

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center or Hopeline (1-800-suicide) is a great option, it not only helps people dealing with things like depression and self-injury, it provides information for the people who love them.

I also agree with the other posters who listed Heifer International, it's a great organization.

Invisible Children is an awesome organization working to help children affected by war in Africa, Uganda particularly.

This is a great idea!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

GMHC ( works on stopping AIDS and HIV. They are especially close to my heart because when a good friend of my mother's was dying of AIDS in 1985, they were the only people helping him. They made his life as comfortable as possible at the end, when insurance and many doctors looked at him like he was some sort evil being just because he was gay and had AIDS.

I know it's a really personal reason to support this charity, but they went out on a limb to help others when society was shunning them. For that, I think, they need real recognition.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Elyse

I would say I'm lost for words, but that rarely ever happens to me, so I won't lie! This is awesome! Great way to do some good and a great way to celebrate the holiday spirit! This is a far greater gift than anything you can buy in the shops, and I'm just guessing it reaches a lot more people as well. *applauding till hands are sore*

I'd like to nominate some charities as well. So far I have three, but I might be back tomorrow with more names (Oh, and forgive me for not reading all 222 comments to see if anyone else mentioned these already...)
Wine to Water: (Bartender goes charity)
Living lands and waters: (cleaning up the Mississippi and also restoring the natural environment)
Heifer International: (giving cows to poor people in Africa, who give the offspring of their cow to someone else)

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdutchdish

I am a big giver to my local Food Bank. I spent six years on their board of directors and volunteer there often. I think it goes nicely with todays water charity as food and water are the basic necessities of life.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

Wow! What a great idea! I am in for $1 a day.

I would like to see some medical organizations considered, like" rel="nofollow">Doctors Without Borders or a similar smaller operation" rel="nofollow">Floating Doctors.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

What's up with that first cake? I didn't know aliens celebrated Christmas too!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

love this idea.

I am a selfish creature--while I wish I could save the world, I want to start with saving my friend....

this girl taught me how to see the world and smile. she showed me that mountains were more than just dirt -- but rather dragons sleeping under blankets. She deserves a fighting chance.

And while I wrote this, 148 more dollars were donated to charity:water… simply amazing.
i am so glad you use your power for good *wink*

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenconbar

Your local CASA program: Court Appointed Special Advocates provide a voice for kids in foster care and represent the kids' best interests throughout the process of finding them a permanent, stable, loving home whether that can be back with Mom and Dad or another family.

Merry Christmas!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Tanzania Development Support is a pretty sweet group. It's small, but they do great work over in Tanzania with volunteers and students to further education and development in small villages. Check them out

:) What a great idea!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmslynn

i was going to suggest a water/sanitation charity, but you beat me to it! i'll have to just see what everyone else came up with.

i love the idea of this giving campaign--keep up the good work cake wrecks!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy h :)

My three favorites are the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, ASPCA and Big Brothers Big Sisters. BBBS especially could use funding.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Please, Please think about donating to" rel="nofollow">SmileTrain
The can provide a surgery to children with cleft lips and palates for a mere $250. Children who would otherwise be shunned as freaks are given a new life. The same surgery here in the US charged my insurance $17,000!.

Another idea that I just HAVE to push is a charity that has to do with literacy. I am a librarian, and too many people out there still aren't reading. How is this possible??

I LOVE your idea about just $1 a day. Who can't get on board with that!

Thank you so much! I love your site, and I've been a follower and pusher of your site for some time.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

GREAT Idea! :)

I live in Northern Canada ... we have no child's specialist up here, all families that need specialized care for their children have to be sent on a 2-3 hr plane ride to the nearest major city.

Ronald McDonald House charity provides families with a happy well loved places for the families and children to stay when they leave the territory for medical treatment.

It is truly amazing the help they provide to remote communities when we need help for our children.

Again, AMAZING idea!!
Danielle :)

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFignie

In favor of local charities that struggle and get far less attention than national and international charities....
Holston Home for Children
A small organization committed to reuniting families in the foster care system and to creating new families through adoptions. And they have an awesome Adventure Based Counseling Program that uses horses, gardens, ropes courses, and other creative interventions to work with kids and families!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthetnpreacherswife

OMG, Jen, you guys are seriously impressing me. I like you even more for using your superpowers for good!

Two charities I believe in and support on my own: the Heifer Project and Feeding America. Both of them seem a good use of money collected via wasted food!

Seriously, you have just made my day with your inspiring generosity!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFlartus

May I add to the chorus of "what a great idea Jen & John have posted ! " I've made my donation for today, I will follow along for the 2 weeks and I thank you for challenging us all.

The charity that is nearest & dearest to my heart is the March of Dimes. Prevention of prematurity is their goal; mind you, as an insurance case manager for neonates & a NICU nurse, prevention of prematurity would put me out of work -- BUT THAT'S OK ! ! ! Every baby deserves the best start in life, and the research funded by March of Dimes helps to assure that babies are born healthy. Please consider them as one of your daily charities.

Peggy, RN, in Ohio
daily reader (sometimes 3 or 4 clicks per day to see what people are saying) but infrequent commenter.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy, RN

I love this idea! Our family has stopped giving presents the past few years and makes donations instead. Some charities we've donated to include the local animal shelter, Red Cross, and Invisible Children.

And, here's one you might like, this is a group of culinary professionals that do short-term volunteer trips. I heard of them recently because of a project with Chicago kids, teaching them to cook as a way to prevent teen crime. Their website: and the article about their project in Chicago:

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

One of my favorite charities is the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, they take in retired circus elephants or elephants that were housed in bad conditions in zoos and have space for them to live freely, not in cages.

This is a fantastic idea, thank you so much for doing this!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterManda

St Jude's Children's Cancer Research Hospital in Memphis treats all children from all over the world, regardless of the family's ability to pay for treatment. It is a beautiful, wonderful organization that loves children. In the same vein, the Memphis Grizzlies House and the Ronald McDonald House attached to St. Jude's houses the families of those dear children so that the family may be near the child during treatement.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

The East 7th Street Center in Lexington Kentucky also known as Kids Cafe is a great program to donate to. I'm not sure how you feel about more localized charities, but Kids Cafe provides the kids of Lexington with tutoring, meals, access to computers, birthday parties, and a place to go if they have nowhere else to go. $200 would go a long long way for them to help do things like buy art supplies, tutoring materials, school supplies, and throw birthday parties for kids that can't afford to have one.

Thanks so much!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My favorite charity is Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Network of Western PA and they are in desperate need of funds.


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

I'd suggest the American Diabetes Association. So that people can continue to enjoy Wrecks.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCat Skyfire

I'm going to echo the FEEDING AMERICA suggestions. Donate to the national organization, which provides assistance to their affiliates around the country (I'm on the Board of Directors for our Local Food Bank).

I'm not a touchy feely person, and I'll admit that I'm very much into hand-ups, not hand-outs. But, when you understand who are the primary beneficiaries of your local food banks/food panties, you'll weep. 60% (on average) of the people who receive benefits are children and seniors. Too many children do not know where their next meal will come from, and those in schools able to be a part of morning breakfast programs, school lunch and even Kids Cafe (dinner) programs struggle, as they don't get a meal from Friday night to Monday morning. And think of all the kids too young to be in school.

Seriously, this is a passion I've taken on - and I'm not this kind of person typically. But, starvation in America is something that has chiseled its way into my heart.

Okay, I'll step off my soap box now.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMNF

One word: smile train. It helps kids in poor countries get surgery for cleft palate and lip.
~Bryn B.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Heart of Hope is a maternity home for young mothers ages 11-20. I recently learned about this ministry through my church and fell in love with it. I became a mother at 15 and, even though my mom was/still is there for me and my daughter, I have a special place in my heart for girls in that situation. We've all made mistakes in our lives, some are just more obvious than others. They're still building the home (which I got to visit- it's going to be awesome!), but plan to open their doors in the Spring. They will not turn any girl away because of her inability to pay. That being said, they could use all of the financial assistance they can get.

Thanks for being so awesome, Cake Wrecks!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I love this time of year...we stop and think about other people for a little longer than we do the rest of the year. (And I have an excuse to bake cookies every darn day if I want to.)

I'd like to recommend Women At Risk, International. It works with...well, women at risk in other countries, women who have spent time in the sex trade or abusive situations. It creates safe havens and teaches them skills that they can market rather than having to sell their bodies to survive. In some areas, they even teach them cake decorating...

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

This time of year, I look at charities that benefit children, specifically St. Jude's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. We have some good friends whose daughter has been battling cancer the last few years. We are so grateful that our own son is healthy, and equally grateful that these are places available should we ever need them, God forbid.

Thanks for doing this, John and Jen. Happy...Winter!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Oh my gosh! Please consider making one of the days a" rel="nofollow"> day!

With, you can give direct funding to specific projects in specific classrooms.

Basically, you can swoop in and give direct, tangible, and immediate assistance to a bunch of specific kids (not some general fund for a charity that gives to kids in general) for really relatively small dollar amounts.

I try to fund at least one project a week there, and it really does the heart good. Plus, sometimes the kids send you thank you notes and drawings and stuff!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColette

What a great idea! Together we can make a huge difference.

I'd like to suggest the Humane Society. I work with special education students at a local high school. I go with them to a job site so they can learn vocational skills for when they graduate. Our current job site is our local humane society. We go in everyday and clean dog bowls and cat boxes. Our local shelter is losing so much money that it could possibly be shutting down within this next year. I'd hate to imagine what would happen to all the dogs and cats without a safe place for them to go to.

Other charitable organizations I volunteer with are the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts. All of my children are involved in these organizations.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Donation: done! I love this idea.

May I recommend:

Save the Music - It's a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education in public schools and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child's complete education. This is a favorite of my husband's. - this is a Florida nonprofit that specializes in providing sanctuary and care for otherwise largely unadoptable animals, due to their health, etc. 100% of the cash goes to their care. It doesn't have employees, marketing, etc., it's all volunteer. I guess it's a comparatively small operation, but they are amazing. Anything related to animals would be great.

Habitat for Humanity. I mean, there's really nothing better than home, is there?

I'm sure I'll have more suggestions.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Flax

I second the vote for Child's Play.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

As mother to a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, may I suggest an Autism research organization such at National Autism Association or Autism speaks.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

This is a truly lovely idea! I'd like to suggest the Southwest Indian Foundation (, though I'm sure you've gotten tons of suggestions! They work to lesson poverty for Southwestern tribes and have special projects, such as supplying stoves for heating to the many who don't have them.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

What a wonderful idea!

Like Ms. Chapman said, I'm not keen on donating to many religion-based charities - unless they foster a message of openness and unity. I won't donate to groups that don't treat people equally. Likewise, I'm not particularly comfortable donating to a military that is not my own, though of course that shouldn't affect your choice of charities. After all, the point of charity is that it is universal.

As a Canadian (albeit one living in America) I'm excited to learn about these international charities, like Heifer International, and I love

So how about a few Canadian charities as well - Blankets for Canada // is a good one - or how about supporting the Canadian military and their families with the Canadian Hero Fund?

Canada: we exist!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

I know these comments are going to get out of control soon enough. I did want to post a charity for you to look over.

Child's Play is a charity organization that furnishes children's hospitals with games to help ease the mind of the children that are very ill. These guys started the charity as a small group of gamers working to do this and it's grown substantially since. It's a true grassroots movement that has seen some wonderful kid's through some really tough times.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda
December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Some of my favorite charitable organizations:

* Operation Blessing: dontates money, medical services, food, fresh water, emergency disaster relief to US & other countries, clothes, anything you can imagine
* Prison Fellowship: purchases Christmas gifts for children in the name of their incarcerated parents...children who often fall thru the cracks and feel guilt for having a parent in that situation.
* Samaritan's Purse - provides care packages with toys, basic needs such as toothbrushes, etc., and even wells to provide fresh water to other countries where such a thing is a luxury.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Planet Cancer! Any worldwide charity supporting young adults with cancer, whose slogans include:
"I had cancer and all I got was this stupid sticker,"
"We've done drugs Keith Richards never heard of,"
and sells thong underwear that reads:
"It's not just my head that's bald"

is a charity well aligned with Cake Wrecks. ;)


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Not to be a spoilsport, but you realize we have a need for clean drinking water in the United States, right?

There are a lot of places that don't have clean drinking water, or drinking water that can easily get contaminated by runoffs after a storm.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I always support Oceana. gotta save our oceans!

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBonney

I give my time and money to I Care I Cure Chilhood Cancer Foundation. This organization raises money for the development of targeted therapies for childhood cancer, offering hope for gentler and more tolerable treatment.

Please check it out:

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShara

Fantastic idea...many thanks for pulling this together for the holidays. I've been donating to Mercy Corps for years. They have never failed to impress me with the level of effort they put into reaching out to people in need as well as to their contributors. And I really like that they focus on working with community members in each case to develop unique and sustainable solutions to improving lives. That being said, this year I've made additional donations to the KidsOfKilmanjaro project ($29 feeds a kid for a whole year!) and the Central Asia Institute that develops school programs in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Good luck picking...I look forward to making my daily donations (although I second that paypal would make it more expedient, but I'll take the time regardless).

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAEG

I know this charity probably won't be picked because of it's obscurity, but it's worth a try. There is a disease called Stargardts that is a type of macular dystrophy that affects the eyes. It affects something like 1 in 20,000 people and I only know about it because my brother, one of the kindest, funniest people you will ever meet, was diagnosed at 7. It causes bumps on the retina of the eye so the person can see, but the vision is 20/20,000. The frustrating part of this is that there are some very promising advances in the field but there isn't much money to fuel it.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

one other favorite charity of mine is Alex's Lemonade Stand. It raises money for childrens cancer. Alex set up a lemonade stand in her front yard to raise money for not only her own cancer treatments but to help other children like herself. She was such a selfless little girl.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

I'd like to nominate JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) It is a charity that is near and dear to my heart and family. We do the national walk every October

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkatrotta

As a military spouse I'd like to suggest:

The Wounded Warrior Fund

and as a mother of a special needs child:

Austism Society of America


December 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterManda

Wow! I've read the first 200 comments and I just can't go any further.
You guys are the best. This idea is heart warming and had me a bit teary this morning.
Jen & John, you are going to have your work cut out for you sifting through these worthy causes.
Thanks for being the wonderful, funny, caring people you are.

December 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterduffylou

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>