Twin sisters Emma and Amy Bushman, of Anderson Township, started the nonprofit Bake Me Home as a way to provide youngsters in area shelters with ingredients and supplies to make their own cookies as well as create a bonding experience among families.
It all began with a birthday party and a desire to help others.
Twin sisters Amy and Emma Bushman of Anderson Township have been inspiring youngsters to get in the kitchen and bond with their families through their charity organization Bake Me Home.
“It’s making a difference in someone’s life even if it’s a small one,” said Amy, who is a freshman at Anderson High School.
Some would argue, Amy and her sister Emma, who is also a freshman at Anderson High School, are making more than a small difference.
Their charity has grown from providing 81 local families with bags containing ingredients for making cookies to a far-reaching initiative that includes among others a Bake It Forward Program which promotes volunteerism among youngsters, and a Bake Me Back Home Program that provides cookies for veterans.
The idea for the program had its genesis during the sister’s fourth birthday party, when they asked guests not to bring presents for them but instead to bring gifts that could be donated to babies at an area homeless shelter.
Collecting gifts and other items for donations became an annual tradition during the girl’s birthday parties.
Later Amy and Emma, who are both 14, began collecting ingredients to make pancakes, which they would cook at the shelter after dropping off their donations.
Emma said she and her sister noticed that children at the shelter would be standing at the kitchen doorway watching them cook. Due to safety regulations, the children were not permitted into the kitchen.
“It seemed awful, they couldn’t have the same experience,” Amy said.
Around the same time, Amy and Emma attended a cooking camp where they were given a Mason jar of cookie mix to give to someone. Additionally, they saw a segment on a television program on young entrepreneurs.
“All of these things came together,” Emma said.
The idea for the nonprofit Bake Me Home organization was cooked up in 2008.
Bake Me Home provides youngsters at various shelters with ingredients and supplies needed to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Part of the charity’s goal is to encourage youngsters to share time with family while preparing the cookies.
“We wanted to give the families in the shelter the same experience,” Emma said.
In recent years, Amy and Emma have started several other charity initiatives that espouse the same positive principles and outreach as Bake Me Home.
Bake Me Home works with 18 different agencies including homeless shelters, food pantries and foster care organizations in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties. More than 700 volunteers are involved in helping the girls.
“What has allowed us to grow is the amazing help we’ve gotten from our community,” Emma said.
Amy said the concept for Bake Me Home didn’t start as “a grand idea.”
“We just wanted to help,” Emma said.
Growing up, Amy had a dream of filling a huge warehouse with bags of ingredients that would be distributed around the world.
“It’s grown beyond imagination,” she said. “We definitely hope this continues.”
Emma agreed. “It feels amazing to know we have been able to help so many people.”
More about Emma and Amy
Current residence: Anderson Township
Family: Mom, Alison, and dad, Lee
Education: Both are freshmen at Anderson High School
Volunteer work: Both are volunteers at the Duke Energy Children’s Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center, where they serve as judges for the Difference Maker Awards
What they say
The best advice ever received:
Emma: Tuck your shirt in and move on.
Amy: Don’t limit yourself by other people’s opinions or standards.
Best advice for others:
Emma: To make a difference you don’t have to do a big grand thing. Start small.
Amy: Any little thing can make a difference.
Emma: My parents. They introduced us to volunteering and giving to others.
Amy: Parents and grandparents.
Most rewarding achievement:
Emma/Amy: Starting Bake Me Home.
What motivates you:
Emma: Knowing if I can make a difference, I have an obligation to do what I can.
Amy: Knowing if I’m able to give, I should.
Legacy you hope to leave:
Emma: I want people to remember me as a kind and generous person who made the world a better place.
Amy: I hope people remember I’m a nice, giving person who helped others around her.
This article originally appeared on cincinnati.com