Macarons and mercy: Teens launch a nonprofit bakery to raise funds for clean water

Every day in Central Pennsylvania, there are dedicated young people doing great things. While we can’t shine the light on all of the amazing kids out there, we are happy to highlight some of our socially responsible young citizens. In the process, we hope that they may inspire others to make a positive difference within their communities.

Know of a great kid (or kids!) who gives back to the community? Nominate him or her to be a future Caped Crusader by emailing

The next Caped Crusader will appear in our February issue!

Kids invading the kitchen to bake treats with their friends is practically a rite of passage for the early teen years.

But it takes a special mix of talent, dedication and altruism to do what four young women from York have done with their passion for baking. In just over a year, they’ve managed to donate $3,000 to charity from the money they’ve raised from the nonprofit bakery they started, A Pinch of Kindness.

Since the end of ninth grade, Phoebe Caplan, Lilly Cook and Elise Atkinson, now 16, and Bryn Walsh, 17, now juniors at York Suburban High School, have been baking delicious macarons that come in some incredible flavors (an orange shell with orange vanilla buttercream filling; a lemon shell with lemon buttercream filling; a vanilla shell with pumpkin filling; and a vanilla shell with salted caramel and chocolate filling, just to name a few). They’ve earned a loyal following that pays $16 per dozen for the pastry treats.

The girls, in turn, have been donating their proceeds to Charity: Water, an organization that raises money and sends volunteers to build wells in third world countries.

We recently spoke with the four high schoolers about their friendship, their love of baking, and why they decided to start A Pinch of Kindness.

Central Penn Parent: How long have you all been friends?

Elise: Since middle school. Bryn, Lilly and I were friends in elementary school, but Phoebe didn’t go to the same school. We got really close freshman year. Running A Pinch of Kindness together brought us all together so much.

CPP: Do you all love to bake? Or is that a talent/passion that belongs to just a couple of you?

Bryn: We actually all love to bake. We created A Pinch of Kindness when Lilly and Phoebe decided they wanted to try making macarons. We figured out that we loved making them, and then we all started baking them together. Now Phoebe and I are the ones who make the batter for the cookies and pipe them onto the pan, and Lilly and Elise make the frostings.

CPP: Which came first, the passion for baking, or the passion for giving back somehow?

Phoebe: The ideas came together at the same time. Lilly and I had gym class together freshman year and we would spend the whole period talking. One day we came up with the idea of creating a bakery to sell to our friends and family, and knowing that neither of us really needed the money we decided to make it a nonprofit. At first we started making cupcakes as well, but later after finding out how much we loved to make them we decided to only make macarons.

CPP: Have you all been involved in altruiscaped-crusaders-brynn-making-macaronstic adventures before this?

Elise: I have been on two mission trips, one to Guatemala and one to Ethiopia. These trips helped me experience a completely different culture and realize I wanted to help people who are not as fortunate. And we all volunteer in the community through different school organizations like student council and National Honor Society.

CPP: When did you all decide to use your talent for baking amazing treats for fundraising?

Brynn: After baking together a few times, other people began to tell that our macarons were good enough to sell. We decided we enjoyed baking so much that creating a Pinch of Kindness would be a great we to do what we enjoy while also helping others.

CPP: Why did you choose to support Charity: Water?

Phoebe: I had raised money with Charity: Water before and I knew that they were a legitimate organization that made sure all the money was helping to provide clean drinking water.

CPP: Your cookies are gorgeous and your website stunning. How much time have you all dedicated to A Pinch of Kindness?

Lilly: We usually bake for eight hours at a time and have spent over 100 hours baking and running the business. When we first started taking orders we would bake every weekend. Now we are able to make larger batches and bake between 400-600 cookies about once a month.

CPP: Do you plan to continue with it after high school, or pursue other altruistic endeavors?

Lilly: While we would love to continue baking, the odds of all of us being able contribute after high school are slim. We do hope to continue to help those in need in other ways.

CPP: OK. Just between us. What’s your favorite dessert?

All: Macarons, of course!


L-r, Bryn Walsh, Phoebe Caplan, Lilly Cook, and Elise Atkinson

Know of a great kid (or kids!) who gives back to the community? Nominate him or her to be a future Caped Crusader by emailing The next Caped Crusader will appear in our February issue!



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