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Baking for kids: Making birthdays special at the Ranch

Alishia Baker truly lives up to her last name.

birthday cake Alishia BakerAn avid, creative baker, Alishia started baking at a young age and has always loved it. Recently, she began volunteering her time, talent, and baked goods to the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches.

About birthdays at the Ranch

Founded in 1976 by Arkansas sheriffs, the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches provide a loving, supportive place to call home for about 60 children per year. Located near Batesville, Arkansas, the Ranch operates family-style cottages, helping children feel secure, stable, and comfortable. The Ranch provides multiple programs and services for Ranchers, including therapy sessions, an educational summer program, and outdoor activities. Children at the Ranch also participate in chores and attend church weekly.

When children who call the Ranch home celebrate birthdays, they receive a gift from the Ranch and a birthday cake or cupcakes. Alishia makes this celebration time sweeter by creating cakes tailored to individual children’s preferences for flavor, color, and theme. She recently donated a custom-made vanilla “kitten” cake with pink frosting, complete with ears, a nose, eyes, and whiskers for a child’s birthday party. The recipient, a young birthday girl, was thrilled. At about $40 per cake, volunteer bakers save the Ranch $2,400 annually while providing children with special experiences.

The making of a baker

Alishia Baker first realized her talent merited attention when she baked a cake for her church in 2014.birthday cupcakes Alishia Baker

“For our pie auction, I baked a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It brought some of the highest bids,” Alishia recalls.

After the auction, two women from church requested that Alishia bake their birthday cakes. Alishia also hosted a fundraiser and prepared a cake for a Miss Arkansas candidate. Her fan base grew. The more people tasted her cakes and recognized her cake decorating abilities, the more they requested to purchase her creations.

Making birthdays special

In January 2020, we posted on Facebook about the need for bakers willing to bake custom birthday cakes for Ranchers. Alishia jumped at the opportunity and immediately responded.

“I have a very soft spot for kids who are less fortunate. Birthdays are a HUGE deal to me. I wanted the rose cupcakes birthday kids at the Ranch to feel extra special on their day,” Alishia shares.

Thanks to volunteers and donors like Alishia, our Ranchers do feel special.

Do you have a special talent, business service, or product to donate to children who call the Ranch home? Please consider volunteering or giving to the Ranch. Contact us at 870-793-6841 or via email to find out how you can build hope in children’s lives.

You may also make a charitable contribution to Ranch, which helps pay for things like shoes, clothing, and even birthday presents. As an organization that is almost entirely privately funded, we would not be able to provide these special occasions for our Ranchers without support from donors. Click here to make a one-time or monthly gift.

About @YouthRanches

The Arkansas Sheriffs' Youth Ranches provide a loving, safe place to call home for children across Arkansas. Founded in 1976 by Arkansas sheriffs, ASYR has been home to more than 2,300 boys and girls from every corner of the state.