By Molly • Molly Walker • 

Edible art

Marcus Larson/News-RegisterBaker Bonnie Mann applies some sparkling “pixie dust” to a chocolate cake she has been working on for a friend. While the visual appeal of her creations is important, Mann says, taste is priority No. 1.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Baker Bonnie Mann applies some sparkling “pixie dust” to a chocolate cake she has been working on for a friend. While the visual appeal of her creations is important, Mann says, taste is priority No. 1.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Marcus Larson/News-RegisterBonnie Mann takes a chocolate cake out of the oven as she discusses the focus of her fundraising efforts, the Give a Little Foundation. Mann donates the proceeds from the sale of her cakes to the nonprofit, which provides one-time financial assistance to individuals and families facing a crisis.
Marcus Larson/News-Register
Bonnie Mann takes a chocolate cake out of the oven as she discusses the focus of her fundraising efforts, the Give a Little Foundation. Mann donates the proceeds from the sale of her cakes to the nonprofit, which provides one-time financial assistance to individuals and families facing a crisis.

Retired Newby Elementary School teacher Bonnie Mann launched her first foray into baking 14 years ago. A student teacher she had worked with was getting married, and Mann volunteered to bake the wedding cake.

After she made the offer, Mann began to wonder what she’d gotten herself into. After all, she had never attempted a professional-grade cake before.

But she marched forward, after enlisting the help of a Newby cook, who was liberal with pans and tips. The result was a beautiful, white, four-tier cake, accented with flowers.

When she was done, she thought, “Wow! That was fun.” She said, “I absolutely loved it.”

It taps her creative side, replacing watercolor work as a primary outlet.

“Cake making, for me, is edible art where I don’t have to find a wall to hang it,” Mann said. But while the visual aspect is important, she said taste has to remain number one. 

After many years of cake baking, she met Tricia Crawford, co-founder of the Give a Little Foundation. And the focus changed.

Crawford spoke about the foundation at a gathering of the Unitarian Universalist Church of McMinnville. Mann said the church adopts a different charitable beneficiary each quarter, and it was Give a Little’s turn.

“She spoke and I was absolutely drawn in,” Mann said. “I told her, ‘There’s something about the sound of what you do that I’d love to be part of.’” 

Mann is now serving as a Give a Little board member. Thanks to her educational background, she is also acting as its liaison to local schools.

But it’s her cake-making skills that have come to the forefront of late. That’s led to a new campaign, taking the motto, “It’s a Piece of Cake... to Give a Little.”

Mann has begun baking cakes with a dual purpose — as a creative release for her and a profit center for Give a Little, which gets all the proceeds.

“I love to bake and I love Give a Little,” Mann said. “We get the most wonderful letters from the people we’ve helped. It just touches your heart.”

Give a Little was founded by Crawford, Ellen Summerfield and Phillip Pirages in 2008.

In 2012, it helped approximately 75 families keep their homes or obtain affordable housing. On average, it doled out $250 per family.

It has also provided money to pay for medical assistance, utilities, bus passes, car repairs,  gasoline and scholarships for elementary school children from low-income families to attend summer activities sponsored by McMinnville Parks & Recreation Department.

Give a Little does not work with clients directly. It works through other agencies on a referral basis.

Mann describes it as a “leg up” to help people get over a difficult financial hump. Many times, she said, that’s all it takes to get people through.

Mann’s cakes and cupcakes can be seen at www.givealittlecake.wordpress.com. They can be ordered by contacting Mann at 503-434-4354 or bcmann5@frontier.com.

Give a Little also plans a jewelry sale fundraiser called “Spring Bling,” slated for Saturday, May 4, at First Presbyterian Church.

Drop-off sites for donated goods will be established next month. For more information, visit www.givealittlefoundation.org or call 503-857-2964. 

BOARD TO MATCH DONATIONS

Members of the Give a Little Foundation’s board of directors have announced they will match all funds contributed during a campaign running through Dec. 31. They said the offer was being extended in appreciation of the support the foundation has received since its founding in 2008.

In a mailing, members joined in saying: “We have taking this step in recognition of the fact that the needs in Yamhill County are greater than ever, and we wish to make every effort to keep filling gaps for hundreds of individuals and families who require assistance with urgent expenses such as rent, car repairs, electric and heating bills, medical prescriptions and bus passes — always paid for with the hope that the recipient will be better able to attain self-sufficiency in the future.”

The match offer applies to sustaining member pledges as well as one-time donations. In addition, members are continuing to cover all of the foundation’s operating costs, as they have since its inception. 

Donations can be made through the group’s website at www.givealittlefoundation.org or mailed to Give a Little Foundation, P.O. Box 232, McMinnville, OR 97128. 

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