Cookie by cookie, Redwood students spread hope during COVID-19

Kate McHugh

In the print version of this article, The Bark incorrectly stated that the organization Baking a Difference donates to is Heart of the Village. The correct name is Women Helping all People, which has been updated in the article below. 

It is 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon as juniors Haley Rothbart and Bridgette Ryning box up two dozen chocolate chip cookies for the Marin County Fire Department. In September, Rothbart and Ryning opened Baking a Difference, a cookie business from their homes, with all the proceeds going to local organization Women Helping all People. Women Helping all People works to create a connection between Southern Marin and Marin City and to help people get involved in supporting both communities. More specifically, Rothbart and Ryning donate their proceeds to provide foster kids in Marin City a place to do school work by supplying desks, chairs and reliable wifi. 

Zirpoli, Ryning and Rothbart gather at the fire station after delivering their first round of cookies. (Photo courtesy of Haley Rothbart)

“It feels really good to do something with purpose, especially with all of these weird things that are happening [right now],” Rothbart said. Now that school has started, I realized how important in-school [learning] is. I want to make sure other kids who don’t have the opportunity can have those desks and chairs in order to have a classroom that they can be in.”

Fellow community member and mother of two Redwood students, Amy Hughes, originally came up with the idea, inspiring Rothbart and Ryning to team up in creating Baking a Difference. Previously, Rothbart has worked with Hughes to give baked goods to Marin firefighters, so when Hughes heard that Women Helping all People was looking for donations, they decided to put the two ideas together.

“I just gave her the [organization] idea, but it was just a sketch of what it could be. [Haley] flushed it out, expanded it and organized it,” Hughes said. 

Rothbart and Ryning receive donations from community members who then specify who they want the cookies to go to; often a relative or frontline worker in Marin. Then, that donation is used to pay for the desks and chairs for the foster kids.

 Hughes is happy with how the idea has turned out because it directly benefits Marin City, which was one of her main goals when coming up with Baking a Difference. 

Waiting to be delivered, neatly decorated cookie boxes are ready for the firefighters. (Photo courtesy of Haley Rothbart)

“I love to see high school students who want to do something and give back [to the community],” Hughes said. “I feel like we have [Marin City] right on our doorstep with all these people who need resources, and we’re very lucky to have what we have, I feel like this is something that could be a direct result and they could feel the impact.” 

Despite only delivering their first order a week ago, Baking a Difference has already raised $1,116. Ryning likes Women Helping all People’s mission and how it helps kids during this tough time, so she is very happy to be able to work with them.  

We’re really grateful that a lot of people donated to us, [and] want to fulfill our promises, to help people and to give the baked goods,” Ryning said. 

Now that school has started back up, it has been harder for the team to continue baking on top of navigating online school and homework, however, Rothbart and Ryning are continuing to stick with it because they love to see how it affects their community.

“My favorite thing about it is that it is not just one thing, but rather it’s helping two different aspects of our community,” Rothbart said.

If you are interested in helping Baking a Difference, be sure to check out their new Instagram page @bakingadifferencemain for more information on how to donate.