SHEFFIELD — Shoals CASA’s new Cupcake Club hasn’t even been established for a week, and already the sweet, new fundraiser is garnering plenty of community support.

“I had the privilege of kicking that fundraiser off for my actual birthday, and the response has been overwhelming so far,” said Shoals CASA Executive Director Andrea Holt.

Holt said nearly $700 was raised in the first 48 hours of the fundraiser. As of Thursday morning, the Cupcake Club had raised $850, which she said will enhance the agency's advocacy for foster children “in a number of ways.”

More specifically, Holt said the funds will support the needs of Shoals CASA’s court-appointed volunteer advocates. This might include specialized training on issues that are impacting children, or recruitment efforts for additional volunteers, if needed.

“It may be that it provides for a special project for children in foster care, or a special project of Shoals CASA that, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to produce,” Holt added.

Members of “Mary Ellen’s Circle,” a network of women that works to support local foster children, knew they wanted to incorporate birthdays in a special project as part of their mission.

Holt said it’s not Shoals CASA’s specialty to facilitate something like Cupcake Club on its own, so it needed to find a skilled local partner who could make it all happen.

That’s where Florence's Yummies Bakery and Deli came into play.

“It just became clear one day that this is how we kick this project off,” Holt said.

Yummies Owner Dawn Fry jumped on board “without hesitation,” Holt said. From there they got the paperwork together and made a fun video to announce the fundraiser on Facebook.

“Fry is a phenomenal human being," Holt said. "With her specialty being cupcakes and our mission work being helping children, it just, to her, was a good match.”

For a minimum donation of $20, Holt said donors may choose to honor someone’s birthday, and Shoals CASA will send the honoree a gift certificate for a free cupcake from Yummies.

“It’s a great, great way, I think, to kind of send somebody a ‘happy birthday’ card with a bonus note that their birthday is helping children in the Shoals community,” Holt said.

Shoals CASA chose to send gift certificates so honorees could pick out their favorite cupcake at Yummies at their leisure and convenience, Holt said.

The success of the new fundraiser has been one of the greatest birthday gifts Holt said she could hope to receive. Since she has “everything I need,” Holt said birthdays — both for her and many others she knows — have become more about giving than receiving.

“I hope the community embraces that as well as a way to show the people they love that because they are loved, there’s a child that’s getting what they need,” she said.

“We live in such a giving community, (and) to be able to share a gift with children in honor of somebody that we love I think takes that philanthropic spirit of this entire community to another level,” she added. “It’s a give-back that gives to the future. I could not be more excited about this project — that it’s here, and that we’re able to kick it off to help our kids in foster care.”

The Cupcake Club will continue throughout the year.

—kendyl.hollingsworth@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5757

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