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Oatmeal raisin philanthropy gets students cooking

Taylor Nelson, left, and McKenzie Phillips pull a dozen oatmeal raisin cookies from the oven

About a baker’s dozen Mill Creek Middle School students are whipping up a batch of big-hearted goodness.

The after-school “kitchen club” formed in January and led by life skills teacher Donita Coughlin is using proceeds from lunchtime sales of cookies to bolster kids facing cancer.

“The idea was to do some baking, but also a little philanthropy tossed in for good measure,” Coughlin said.

Proceeds from cookies made by the club and sold during lunchtime go to Cookies for Kids Cancer, a New Jersey-based nonprofit.

Kitchen Club at Mill Creek Middle School also introduces students to philanthropy

“Once I wrapped my head around a kitchen club, I felt it needed to have purpose, not just a place to bake and eat,” Coughlin said. She did some research online and brought the CFKC idea to the club in December. So far they have made more than $100.

The student club, held two days a week, centers on baking cookies using staple ingredients such as oatmeal, brown sugar and chocolate chips left over from a grant-funded district community night project. Coughlin said they will continue to meet and raise funds for the organization through this month.

Kitchen Club member Jesus Padilla looks happy to be baking

“I like being here a lot,” said seventh-grader Taylor Nelson. And in the world of three-oven baking, she has advice for novices: “Put (ingredients) away right after you add them, and clean up right then and there, then stuff doesn’t stick.”

Kitchen club is one of a handful of after-school clubs at the middle school, many of which were formed last school year when bus funds became available to students who stayed for academic help. There also are clubs for Dungeons & Dragons, euchre, jazz and knitting, to name a few.


Cookies for Kids Cancer, Mill Creek Middle’s Page

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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