Her baking hobby was getting out of hand. Charlotte Park's coworkers had begun to tease her about how many pounds they'd gained since she started working at Lou Hammond Group. Each week the young account executive was bringing in different treats — fudge, cupcakes, cookies, tarts. As delicious as they were, Park knew she had to find a broader audience for her goodies. But she didn't want to just sell them. Park wanted her passion for baking to serve a higher purpose, so in February she launched Crumbs 4 Charleston.
The gist of the idea is each month Park posts three different baked goods to her website, saltandpreppy.com. Charlestonians can then order their favorites and Park will hand deliver them. This month she's offering 12 mini cupcakes ($12), 8 tarts ($15), or 12 cookies ($15), but instead of pocketing the cash, all the money will go to MUSC.
"I pick a different charity each month," Park explains.
The 25-year-old baker says she's had a cooking obsession ever since she discovered the Food Network in high school. "It's all I watched," she says. "When I was younger, I wanted to be Rachael Ray when I grew up." Instead, she went to Hope College in Holland, Michigan where she double majored in business and communications. But in her free time she started cooking and with each new recipe she attempted, she'd blog about it, posting photos and notes.
"I originally liked cooking more, but when I moved to Charleston, I got more into baking because it was easier to share what I made with other people," she says.
For her first month of Crumbs 4 Charleston, in February, Park partnered with One 80 Place. She received 40 orders and was able to raise $350.
"I know it's not much," she says, "but even if my Mom was the only customer, at least I tried."
The deeply devout Christian says her philanthropic baking comes from her faith. "I have a passion for giving back and I think it's cool to work with bloggers and social media to use these avenues to direct people's attention to organizations that people might not know," she says.
One organization she wasn't familiar with until a friend introduced her to it is Warrior Surf Foundation.
"They help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder through learning how to surf on Folly Beach," Park says. Sales of Park's green St. Patrick's Day rice crispy treats went to support Warrior Surf Foundation. And she has big plans for her future partnerships with a running list of places including Charleston Animal Society, We Are Family, and Louie's Kids.
So how does the busy publicist find time to bake for charity in between promoting clients like 5Church, Wild Dunes Resort, and Ms. Roses Fine Food & Cocktails?
"Baking is my de-stresser," says Park. "Two or three times a week, I go home and work on a recipe." Then, in order to do Crumbs 4 Charleston without breaking her budget, she sources all of her ingredients for her weekend deliveries at Walmart.
"All treats are priced at $10-15 and 100 percent of proceeds — minus the cost of ingredients — goes towards the charity," she says. Her baking then takes place on Saturday, sometimes Friday if she's doing a recipe like fudge that can keep for a few days, and on Sunday Park makes her deliveries.
"I'll deliver for free to downtown, James Island, West Ashley, and Mt. Pleasant," she says. "For Seabrook and Kiawah, I'll add like two dollars for gas."
If you're thinking Crumbs 4 Charleston is a pricey hobby, you're not wrong. Sourcing the ingredients, paying for gas, and hosting her website isn't the cheapest side project, but that's no matter.
"Even if I'm not able to raise a lot of money," says Parks, "I'm helping promote a cause."
To order from Crumbs 4 Charleston, visit saltandpreppy.com.