08/26/2011 10:12 EDT | Updated 10/26/2011 05:12 EDT

A Fund for Jennie: Food Bloggers Unite to Help One of Their Own


Earlier this week, my Twitter stream was a deluge of messages announcing the official launch of Bloggers without Borders, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting bloggers with one another, and helping those in need. Created by Maggy Keet, Erika Pineda-Ghanny and Aimee Wimbush-Bourque, a Canadian food blogger extraordinaire, the launch was initiated on Monday, and with it a project known as A Fund For Jennie, a mission to raise monies for popular New York City food blogger, Jennifer Perillo, mother of two and recent widow.

I don't know Jennie personally, but I have been a reader of her blog and Twitter follower for several months now. Although we have only exchanged a few pleasantries over the past year, I was stunned and saddened to learn of her husband's passing due to a massive heart attack earlier this month. It was one that took his life immediately, leaving Jennie a devastated widow and single parent to their two daughters. Many in the food blogging community were stunned by her loss and within hours I could see a flood of tweets asking the same questions over and over again: "How can we help? What can we do for Jennie?"

I'm not going to lie, there was a part of me that wondered if it was possible to do any good from my little corner, and kitchen, of the world. Was it possible for me to help someone I didn't know? Would it even matter if I tried? Jennie made it easy for all of us and put out the request herself, asking that we all bake a peanut butter pie on Aug. 12 and share it with someone that we love. See, this pie was her husband's favourite and she had been meaning to make it for him for a while. Of course she didn't get the chance, so she wanted us to make it for someone we loved, in memory of him. The twitter hashtag #apieformikey was created, and on that Friday over 1,000 food bloggers tweeted, baked and shared their pies, proving that the food blogging community was prepared to support Jennie in any way possible.

This week the Bloggers without Borders organization teamed up with Shauna Ahern, author of to create a project that would hopefully help Jennie even more. While the pie baking was certainly a lift to her emotional spirit, the realities of single parenthood, mortgages and health benefits all require more practical fundraising efforts. A fund for Jennie was created and a call to action was requested. Again, the food blogging community did not disappoint.

Within days of the launch, over $10,000 had been donated for Jennie and her girls. Private auctions have also been set up offering everything from framed artwork to private cooking lessons, and a custom made quilt to tickets to the hottest food blogging conference. All the money raised will be forwarded to Jennie. The donations continue to pour in, auction ideas are being announced and food bloggers are prepared to do what they can to assist these three girls.

I've wanted to help as well and realized that in addition to my own donation my most powerful tool could just possibly be my voice. By using it here, I hope to create awareness of the project, the Bloggers without Borders organization and Jennie's story. If, like me, you're wondering what you can do to help, I'll point you in the direction of the non-profit organizations website. They will provide you with directions on how to donate, links to where the auctions can be found and updates on the project's progress.

I can't imagine losing my husband and not having the chance to say goodbye. I can't even think of what it would be like to tell my children their dad won't be coming home again, and I certainly can't comprehend the stress that might come from knowing that I am suddenly the sole provider, both emotionally and financially, for my kids. But, what I can understand is the awesome power of the food blogging community and their desire to offer comfort and support. They have wrapped Jennie and her girls in a blanket of generosity and will continue to care for her in any way they can.