Bake sales are one of the best things ever. They bring together communities and brownies - some of the best things in life - for the greater good.
I remember the thrill of bake sale day in my elementary school. As kids, we would wait for our individual classes to be called down to the assembly hall where we would wait, single file and armed with our pocket money, to buy whatever tasty treats tickled our fancy.
We felt mature and almost drunk off of the power that our small amounts of money afforded us: would we play it safe and opt for proven favourites and budget-friendly options like brownies, cookies and cupcakes, or would we splurge on entire pieces of chocolate cake?
Making a purchase came down to a science, and for me, it was a lesson in budgeting that has lasted me well into my teenage and adult years.
One thing I never really clued into as a child, though, is that these bake sales were not just the products of random acts of kindness on behalf of the PTA. Instead, they were the physical manifestations of both the PTA's meticulous fundraising efforts and the time and effort spent by each parent in their kitchens.
Realistically, our school bake sales were true community efforts that spoke to a cause and those who dedicated themselves to spreading awareness.
This year, I'll get the chance to revisit my childhood memories of bake sales by volunteering at the 2014 Calgary Vegan Bake Sale on May 3.
For five years now, Calgary has participated in the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, a fundraising initiative that spans just over a week in late April to early May. During this time, groups around the world host entirely vegan bake sales in hopes of raising money for a given cause.
In the case of this year's Calgary vegan bake sale, 100 per cent of the proceeds will benefit R.A.S.T.A (Rescue and Sanctuary for Threatened Animals) and Alberta Spay and Neuter Task Force. The sweet and savoury vegan treats will also help to sweeten the deal, so to speak, and raise awareness of a vegan lifestyle.
Aside from the obvious differences between my bake sale experiences as a child and my upcoming experience this week (i.e. that I am now an adult and a vegan, and that I know exactly what this particular bake sale will raise money for), I'm also very aware of the community aspect of this bake sale. This year, we have around 20 volunteers planning, baking, and working towards goals of promoting awareness and improving the lives of local animals.
The community aspect of this bake sale also extends to any vegan - and omnivore - in Calgary who will spend a few bucks on volunteers' baked goods. The idea of being able to attend a bake sale where vegans and non-vegans alike are able to buy anything available for sale is heartwarming and it speaks to a great level of inclusivity. For both the novice and the veteran vegan, that feeling of belonging is so fantastic and heartening.
If you're looking for something to do this Saturday, I suggest you swing by the Community Natural Foods Chinook station market (located at 202 - 61 Ave SW).
Even if you aren't a vegan, the sight (and taste) of vegan baked goodies may convince you that we're not that different from everyone else.
We all like helping each other out, and we all love food that tastes good - we just may be a bit pickier about our ingredients than others.
For more information on the 2014 Calgary Vegan Bake Sale, check out the Facebook event page.