Cake for a Cause: Foster Care, Basketball, and the Jersey Cake

 After learning just how severe the foster care crisis is in our community, we knew we were being called to serve in that area.  The journey down that road has been slow moving, but that story is for another time.  For now, we serve the kids through a foster care ministry in our church, and some incredible faith based organizations, which exist only to serve these kids.  For this event, I had the opportunity to partner with some amazing friends to provide mentoring opportunities for teen boys while playing one of their favorite sports, basketball!  Of course, it wouldn't be a Project Zero event without great food and gifts!

Hopefully, you've heard of Project Zero.  It's the organization responsible for the traveling Heart Gallery and connecting mentors to waiting teens.  They do this, because mentoring is an incredible opportunity it is to show these waiting teens that they are cared for.  It's also chance to plant seeds of hope, one experience at a time, for a brighter future than what the statistics reveal about teens who age out of the foster care system.  What's become obvious to some of us participating, is that when we serve these kids, and therefore put our own interests on hold, we are transformed as well.  Even as adults, we're still growing up, because we walk away with something more after each event.

This boys event was no different.  What was different, was that we were hosting them on our turf.  We set them up in our gym and recreation center for basketball, pool, foosball, video games, skating, and whatever else they wanted to do.  We also planned to stuff them so full of food before returning them to their group homes, that they'd likely pass out on the van ride for sure. I've never been a teenage boy, but a day of leadership, basketball, food, prayer, and love served up all at once seemed like the perfect combo.  If that wasn't enough, thanks to Christie and Project Zero, they all went home with Nike drawstring backpacks and basketball socks.  Those are always a real treat for the boys!

I'm told the boys had a blast! I don't really know what happened in that gym, apart from everyone sweating a ton and many realizing they're not as young as they thought they were, but I do know that it set the hearts of those guys ablaze with a new desire to give more of their time, more often.  The next day, our church was buzzing with the news, not only of our pastor having blown out his ACL, but of the amazing experience the guys had.  They still approach me in the halls, or text to ask when we're doing it again.  As I write about their enthusiasm, I'm reminded of these words:

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be     lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."  -Romans 12:10-11

I knew everyone who volunteered to serve as mentors that day, with the exception of a couple of guests.  Seeing how exhausted they were after using all the gas in the tanks on those boys, followed by their sustained eagerness to do it all over again, changed the way I see them now.   Now, to me, those guys are a reflection of the spirit of that verse, and that's a really cool thing.
Okay, almost forgot to tie cake into this post.  I did think that the jersey cake was cute, because it was a perfect fit for the PZ motto, #shootinforzero.  I should've put the hashtag!  Oh well.  

This project was also fun, because I got to team up with, and spend time with Lynsey, of lynseylous.com!  We did the desserts, and naturally, went overboard.  Who cares!  Some of them have never even had a birthday cake, and I'm sure none of them have seen anything like the basketball she made out of a cookie. We just wanted to give them as much as we could.  Besides that and enough cake to feed an army, they had peanut butter dip in the form of a candy covered basketball, popcorn drizzled with chocolate and tossed with candy, old fashion root beer floats, and probably more that I've forgotten.  The ladies pretty much smothered them with love in the form of food, while having a blast in the kitchen together!

That's Kyrstin, myself, and Lynsey

I cannot forget to mention the ever philanthropic business, and purveyor of the best burgers and fries around, David's Burgers, who generously provided lunch for, not only the boys, but group home parents who brought them, the mentors, volunteer team of servers and babysitters, as well as our children.  We cannot say thank you enough for such kindness.  We can, however, use it as an excuse to eat more David's Burgers!

Thanks to everyone who mentored, served food, greeted guests, babysat, cleaned, etc.  I am grateful for everything each of you did, and I'd give up my Saturdays to do this with you any time!

For more information about the heart gallery and ways to help, follow Project Zero.

You can also follow Lynsey Lous.


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