Sept. 21, 2020 – By SUSAN MINUK
Mia Adler has reason to smile. This summer, the 11-year-old delivered cookies to raise awareness for mental health.
Mimi (her nickname) created “Mimi For Mental Health” in preparation for her bat mitzvah on Nov. 7 this year. Her business motto: Be kind. Be empathetic. Be brave.
Mia’s cookie venture has raised $4,226 in support of Mental Health Empowerment Day (MHED), a venture that promotes mental health education, de-stigmatization and builds community.
“Mia’s passion for helping others proves that young people can drive change,” lauded Leanne Matlow, founder of MHED.
The cookie project launched on July 30. And with Mia’s final delivery on Erev Rosh Hashanah, her “Rosh rush” drove record-breaking sales: More than 78 dozen cookie orders.
As the Grade 7 student at Humewood Community School explained, “I want people to be happy, especially during times like this [pandemic]. I’ve had mental health issues and I know how important it is to let someone know you care. Receiving a box of cookies can change a person’s perspective on everything. It can put a smile on someone’s face and can make them feel loved.”
To make that happen, she participated in Project Give Back, which started in 2007 to inspire young students to develop meaningful relationships with their community and become global-minded, compassionate citizens. Mia’s cookie project was a special Project Give Back initiative geared to her bat mitzvah.
Mia partnered with Sam Ginsberg, a 15-year old CHAT student who runs Sam’s Sweet Creations. Sam developed the mouthwatering cookie recipes.
“I love baking,” Sam enthused. “I love Mia’s cause and I thought it was really cool to partner with another youth.”
From the start of the pandemic, Sam has been delivering baked goods to front-line workers and shelters, donating 20 percent of his profits to charities.
“So being involved in Project Give Back was a good fit for me.”
After rigorous taste-testing, it was decided that Chocolate Chunk, Reverse Double White Chocolate Chunk, and S’Mores would be available for $36 a dozen.
Mia created a social media presence, providing an online form for people to order the treats, with 100 percent of sales supporting MHED, less costs for the cookies.
“Once we knew the numbers of the orders for the week, we would pay Sam so he can purchase his ingredients and for his labour and time,” explained Mia’s mother, Marnie Adler.
“The rest of the money was put aside into a big pot that eventually would go to MHED. Several people who received the cookie boxes reached out to let Mia know how special it was and then they paid it forward the next week, [by ordering more],” her mother said.
For the first week, Sam baked at home in a small kitchen with a single oven. “That order was 27 dozen,” he recalled. “It took about 12 hours. As the orders grew, my aunt let me use her house with double ovens.”
For the final bake, Sam found a commercial kitchen that donated space. He can now bake 34 dozen at a time.
With cookies typically in hand by midweek, Mia’s work began.
“On Thursday mornings, I would wake up and organize the cookies and put them in boxes,” she said. “I had to write names on sticky notes so I wouldn’t lose track of all the boxes and their addresses. I also wrote handwritten cards included with each box.”
Fridays were cookie delivery day. Father and daughter would leave their Toronto home at 10 a.m. for the four-hour journey that included Etobicoke, the Beaches, Richmond Hill, and Maple.
Marnie gushed with pride about her daughter’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“Mia knows how good it feels to give back and how important it is – and that’s what this was all about.”
Concurred Matlow: “Together, Mia and Sam have demonstrated that anything is possible and the future is in good hands.”
Visit www.mhed.ca to learn more about mental health resources.