Cookies Not Cages Local Effort Raises $12,000 to help reunite families

When the dialogue on El Cerrito Next Door landed a suggestion for a bake sale to raise money for detainees at West County Detention Center, members of ECP agreed to get involved. Although some thought it was a long shot or at least an effort that might not yield much money, In the end, we raised $10,000 for bonds to support Freedom for Immigrants in 2018. 

This year we wanted to do something again. We sought out an organization doing immigration work locally with a solid reputation. We were deeply affected by the pictures of the young children in cages so we decided to support East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and specifically help the organization fulfill a need for additional legal services for unaccompanied minors in our community. We met them at their offices to discuss our fundraiser and were so impressed by their work and what they were able to do with such limited space and funding. 

They told us that since 2014 EBSC had provided legal assistance to more than 600 unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence, human trafficking, and domestic abuse in their home countries. We also learned that as of January 2019, the apprehensions of unaccompanied minors at the border had increased over 40%. We wanted to help.

The organizers for Baking for Bonds regrouped and recoined the effort: Cookies Not Cages.  We launched our campaign on the 4th of July with a Gofundme followed by monthly bake sales at El Cerrito Plaza and Kensington Farmers Market. Cookies Not Cages set a $10,000 goal. 

Hundreds of cookies, brownies, pies, cakes and breads yielded thousands of dollars!

Once again, we called out the larger community reaching out first to the bakers and sellers that worked with us last year. Immediately we had the bake sales up and running. Almost every sale we sold out! Everything was donation based. We had many generous donors give us $20 and not take a thing. Others used our sale when they were going to a potluck or having visitors over and bought a variety of items. 

The first weekend we made over $1,000 just at the El Cerrito Plaza. And subsequent weekends were just as successful. People really wanted to help.  Our majority-female group raised over $12,000 for EBSC and they were able to increase access to legal services for minors. While we couldn’t change policy, we could make a difference in the lives of those children who are seeking to remain in the community with their family members.

Our brigade of women was from our community (El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond) and they did us and the community at large proud! And to the men or women who may have been in the kitchen helping out or watching the kids -kudos to you!

We reached out to local businesses and want to give a special shout-out to Ojas Yoga in the EC Plaza. Ojas placed a donation can in their Yoga Studio and helped to spread the word.  And the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Social Justice Committee hosted a special bake sale that garnered over $500 dollars!

For any of you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed,  think about the ways you can make a difference. The ideas you have can help others that need it now. Then grab some friends and make it happen. We showed that it can work!