Sweet Success

Michele Gorham's Team

Fred Gorham, back left, has his hand on Michele Gorham’s shoulder.

Michele Gorham got into hunger relief after seeing a Great American Bake Sale ad on the side of a Domino Sugar box. Three years later she’s a Tyson Foods’ Hunger All-Star, although her first foray into fundraising was bittersweet.
The owner of Cookie Central, a cookie and baked goods delivery service in North Andover, Mass., Gorham said it was actually her husband, Fred Gorham, who first got her thinking about hunger issues.
His auto-glass repair business is just across the Merrimack River near the Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, Mass. Fred would come home talking about the troublesome number of school-age children he would see in line for food.
About the same time, Michele saw the Domino ad and the synergy her business could create addressing a local need. Participating in GABS, one of the five primary campaigns Share Our Strength uses to address hunger, just made sense.
The problem the first year was she and several other bakeries put all their good intentions into one basket.
“We had one huge single event with a magician, a band and barbecue,” Michele Gorham said. “But it rained, and no one came. We were really discouraged.”
Michele and her cohorts still raised $1,300 that first year. The second year they decided to stretch their effort out for a full quarter, combining a series of bake sales with online networking using GABS’ Team Pages. They learned to piggyback on larger city events to increase foot traffic, and it went so well they expanded again.
Cookie Central participated in a total 15 GABS events during 2011 including five online promos, seven bake sales, several other volunteer events and even a GABS golf tournament at Merrimack Valley Golf Club in Methuen, Mass.
After raising $3,500 in year two, this year’s effort topped $9,000.
“I was a single mom less than a decade ago, and I know what it’s like to not have any money and to struggle,” Gorham said. “It’s such an awful feeling, so embarrassing, difficult and stressful. Now I’m in a better position to help, and what I can offer may not be as much as others, but I can still do something.”
SOS, which notes 1 in 5 children in America are at risk of hunger, recently honored Gorham with its 2011 GABS Community Leadership Award at the nonprofit’s annual Conference of Leaders.
Cookie Central offers nationwide shipping including for its Cookies for a Cause line. Cookies for a Cause feature stamped No Kid Hungry cookies ($4 per box) and Share Our Strength cookie pops ($2) and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward the Great American Bake Sale.

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