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The City Journals

Sandy families donate bake sale funds to Ukraine

May 02, 2022 08:11PM ● By Heather Lawrence

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

After hearing about the invasion of Ukraine in February, the Smith and England families in Sandy wanted to find a way to help. But with young kids, what could they do? A lot, it turns out.  

Asialene Smith, mother of four, talked to her kids about what was happening. “I showed them an article and videos about refugees. I asked, ‘Do you want to help them?’ And they said yes,” Smith said.  

“I didn’t want to lose momentum, so we decided to do something right away. We had done family projects to help refugees before, so my kids have a lot of passion for that cause,” Smith said.

Smith’s kids—two older girls and two young boys—like to bake. She suggested they have a bake sale and donate the earnings to a charity helping refugees from Ukraine.

Smith called her friend Ashley England and invited them to join the fundraiser. Then she called her daughter Savanna who is a freshman at BYU. She came home for the weekend to help and brought some friends.  

“Students know what’s going on and want to help. I texted a few of my friends and told them what my family was doing. A lot of them were willing to either make a donation or drop what they were doing to come help with the bake sale.

“It was so inspiring and humbling to see teenagers sacrifice their Friday and Saturday to do something for someone else,” Savanna said.

The Smiths and Englands put their older kids to work grocery shopping and getting ingredients ready. Then the families spent most of March 11 and 12 baking.

That Saturday afternoon the families posted a quick message about the bake sale on social media. Then they set up a table in a high traffic area on Creek Road.

Sandy City Council member Cyndi Sharkey saw the post and stopped by. “Cyndi’s my neighbor. She came to support us and took a photo,” Smith said.

To attract attention, they had balloons and signs in blue and yellow—the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

“So many people saw us and pulled over to buy something or donate. We took cash and also had a QR code and Venmo set up. I think it meant so much to our local community that there was something they could do to help,” Savanna said.

The night before the bake sale, the Smiths researched charities that were helping Ukraine so they could find the right place to donate their money.

“I told the kids we needed to make sure that every cent would go where it would do some good. We found the Driven to Assist program from the Larry H. Miller Foundation. It felt like a trustworthy place to put all the money. It’s right here in Sandy, and they were matching donations,” Smith said.

 The Driven to Assist program ran from March 4-12. On March 19, they announced their charity drive had collected 250 bins—or 13 semitruck loads—of needed goods from the Utah community to donate to people fleeing Ukraine.

As of that press release, Driven to Assist had collected $3,000,000 in monetary donations.

The Smiths and Englands can feel good knowing they helped collect a portion of those funds.

“Our final total was $1,425.52. Someone came up to our bake sale with a bunch of change. They can know that 52 cents is from them,” Smith said with a laugh.

Savanna and the other young people involved in the bake sale learned a lot from their efforts about how good it feels to help others. They feel connected to the refugees, even if they are half a world away.

“I feel like we were inspired to do this. One of my friends has two siblings who were adopted from Ukraine. I follow her mom on Instagram (Kecia Cox, Love Makes Miracles) and she has posted about people they are in touch with in Ukraine.

“My heart aches for these families who are having to leave their homes and also say goodbye to their fathers and brothers who have to stay to fight,” Savanna said.

Savanna is grateful that her parents have taught her to get involved. “I learned from my parents that nothing is ever about me.

“They taught me to put myself in others’ shoes and think about their needs. I need to be selfless and think about the whole picture,” Savanna said. “And the feeling is kind of addicting.”