The Cake Sale: why doing good for others is good for your kid's health

My daughters are baking cakes and selling them to raise money for homeless children. Good for them.

The cake sale has made our Sundays happier

The cake sale has made our Sundays happier

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Suddenly our Sundays have gone all Great British Bake Off. Or a less colourful version of Australia’s sweet-toothed confection Zumbo’s Just Desserts or even the American version of that programme Sugar Rush. (They are on Netflix and they are both addictive. Enjoy)

The first question on Sunday mornings is no longer “Can we go to the amazing wall-climbing place?” It is “what are we going to make for The Cake Sale?”

It’s only been happening for three weekends but the cake sale is now an institution. There is no question about whether it will happen. Ali/Brona/Whoever can try, but even the most ferocious Lady Storm can’t stop The Cake Sale.

It happens on our front doorstep around lunchtime – “because people will be hungry then” is the rationale. Last week the table was laid with experimental apple puffs (the experiment paid off) and fat, oozing slices of Mary Berry’s Victoria sponge.

But before the sale starts, there’s the small matter of marketing. In the absence of an in-house photocopier, six or seven flyers are handwritten and delivered to carefully selected neighbours.

Kind Barry across the road gets one. Frances with the big dog on the other side of the street does too. And Mrs Dempsey's letterbox gets a rattle because she always says hello on walks in the park.

When I was their age I remember gathering broken toys from around the house and selling them outside in the front garden.

“Who were you raising money for?” my daughters ask. “For me,” I say, trying to explain that in our case – a cash-poor house of butter vouchers and food hampers from Vincent de Paul – charity really did begin at home.

How many are there?

They and their friends aren’t raising money for themselves, though. They are raising money for “homeless children”. The first cake sale was for “rescue puppies”, and then the children with no homes became the priority.

“How many are there?” they wanted to know. And I looked it up on the Barnardos website and told them more than 3,000 children are homeless in Ireland. We consider the number as we egg-wash the experimental apple puffs.

Last Sunday they raised €52 because generous Frances paid €20 for two slices of cake. And some non-residents – Cork people mostly – were very happy to add Mary Berry Victoria sponge to their Women's All Ireland Final GAA picnic.

There is sometimes a misconception that only other people benefit from doing good for others. Child experts say that when children do charitable endeavours the kids benefit as much as those they help. They are happier, apparently, have a deeper sense of connection and a stronger personal identity.

Our house on Sundays is certainly a happier place since the cake sale began, even if we’re not happy about the fact that more than 3,000 children in Ireland are homeless today, living in emergency accommodation.

On the Barnardos website my daughters do their own research and discover thousands more are experiencing “hidden homelessness” – living in overcrowded, unsuitable or unstable non-homes.

“No child should worry about where they’ll sleep tonight,” they read.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if that line ends up on this Sunday's flyer.

barnardos.ie

It’s Culture Night, so here are some family-friendly highlights

DUBLIN

A History of Dublin for Children
Outside Smock Alley Theatre, Cow’s Lane, Dublin 8; 5.30pm
Join Humpty Dumpty for nursery rhymes and stories from auld Dublin. You’ll hear all about what life was like for children over 1,100 years of Dublin’s history. Viking kids and modern kids welcome. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The event is 60 minutes long.

Taking Flight: Education & Performance
Unit 4, Cross Guns Business Park, Phibsborough, Dublin 7; 4.30pm-10pm
Taking Flight provides circus-arts education to learners of all ages and abilities. Parents, grandparents, and children alike are invited to take part in family circus workshops in aerial movement, acrobatics and other circus disciplines, 5pm-7pm, followed by circus-arts performances at 7.30pm and 9pm. Proceeds in aid of the Gaza women’s circus project.

Light House Cinema
Market Square, Smithfield, Dublin 7; 4pm-9.30pm
One of Dublin’s most exciting cinemas welcomes all the family to a very special singalong screening of the year’s biggest, most spectacular musical, The Greatest Showman. Lyrics will be shown on the screen – all you have to worry about are the singing and dancing.

KILDARE

Deadlines and More Deadlines!
Meeting House, Ballitore, Co Kildare; 8pm-10pm
Griese Youth Theatre presents Forty-Five Minutes by Anya Reiss, a play about exam deadlines, hopes and fears, with a postshow discussion and study tips. Over-13s (strong language); booking required.

SLIGO

Baby Culture Night with Branar
Hawk’s Well Theatre, Temple Street, and the Model Niland, The Mall; 5pm-10pm
A breakthrough space encouraging child-directed free play, enabling children and their families to have hours of fun as they imagine, invent, build and play. Facilitated through the Irish and English language across two Sligo venues.

CARLOW

Bilingual Tour and Explore
Carlow County Museum; 4pm
Carlow County Museum will have a free family-friendly, interactive, bilingual tour of Ireland’s newest local-authority museum. Families can complete a quiz as they visit the galleries, identify mystery objects and handle some artefacts – as well as get ideas for hundreds more questions to ask parents and grandparents.

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