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How cookies can help homeless kids feel connected


SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) – A sweet plan in what has been a bitter year. A Shelburne man is showing homeless kids kindness during the holidays. Our Kayla Martin shows you how he’s using baking to make the best out of a crummy situation.

“It was my mom’s idea when I was a little kid. Baking cookies with my mom at Christmas was my favorite part of the holiday, and she’d always make a bunch extra and take me and we’d bring them over to the firehouse shelter,” said Evan Ross, who organized the cookie drive.

His mom moved away, so Ross continued the tradition of the treats himself.

“Way it normally works is that I get cookies from people in the community, and they donate them, I pick them up from City Markets, all those types of places. But that couldn’t happen this year, obviously,” he said.

During the pandemic, Ross couldn’t use homemade cookies made in people’s homes. He was going to stop doing it all together, but then he cooked up a new plan to enlist local restaurants to spread holiday cheer.

“Everybody. I think I called just about every, I must have called 80 restaurants. Something like that,” he said.

Ross was able to get the community involved in a new way, and he says it’s mutually beneficial. The kids get to know that someone cares, and restaurants can feel like they have a purpose.

“I thought great, what a great time to spread joy,” said David Hoene, the owner and a chef at Pauline’s Cafe in Shelburne.

Twenty-six area restaurants are participating in the cookie drive. For Hoene, working on this project hit close to home.

“You know I remember the holidays as a kid and you know I grew up really, sometimes the holidays were super stressful, sometimes there was a feeling that there wasn’t enough for the family to go around,” he said.

“Food really brings us together, and sharing something especially that is homemade with someone else really shows that you care,” said Bessie McManus, the development and volunteer coordinator at Steps to End Domestic Violence.

McManus says for these kids, it’s all about feeling connected and knowing that someone out there is thinking about them.

“Especially as their lives are being uprooted by violence and they’re moving into this space around the holiday season. It’s really, really difficult for so many people. To have these cookies is just a dream,” she said.

And this is just one of the organizations that will receive the Christmas cookies.

“The impact that we hope to have is that these parents and kids will feel more like they’re home for the holiday. And just a very simple, very human kind of way,” Ross said.

The cookies will be delivered to the kids on Dec. 23.

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