An eager customer peruses goodies at the Rose Hill bake sale created by a family “company” called 3Z Bake. From left around their customer are the three Z’s: William, Margaret and David Zendzian. SUBMITTED

After being stuck at home for several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three Bluffton moms decided it was time to get the kids out of the house and set some goals for the summer.

Dawn Burke, Elizabeth Jill Jackson and Mary Lange, all of whom live in Rose Hill, began brainstorming a few months ago and came up with some ideas. They agreed that their children needed to get more exercise and be able to socialize at a safe distance. They also wanted to encourage entrepreneurship, family time and community service.

The moms soon started a weekly bicycle club for the kids in the neighborhood, and they also decided to plan a community service event.

After sending out a poll to Rose Hill residents and getting some feedback, they decided that the children would host a bake sale and write letters to nursing home residents.

On the morning of July 26, at least 15 families gathered in the ballroom of Oak Terrace, part of the new club house at Rose Hill. The children wrote letters, drew pictures and made posters for residents of NHC HealthCare Bluffton and Victorian Senior Care in North Carolina.

That afternoon, they hosted a bake sale at Oak Terrace. The restaurant provided the space for free and donated a gift card to be used as a prize at the event.

The bake sale was a way for the children to make a little money for themselves and donate a portion of their profits to charity. They chose Bluffton Self Help and ended up donating $1,106 to the local nonprofit organization.

“All around, this was a great community effort for a good cause,” Burke said. “Several people donated money even though they missed the event.

The children did most of the baking with their families, but several other adults in the neighborhood also contributed baked goods. Grandparents who do not live in Rose Hill attended the event to support the cause.

Gena Spires, a Rose Hill neighbor, donated a huge bag full of cloth masks in case anyone forgot to bring their own. Some guests wanted to pay for their masks, so they made donations to Bluffton Self Help.

In addition to earning money and helping others, the event gave families a chance to spend quality time working together.

“I liked baking the banana bread with my dad,” said 12-year-old William Zendzian. “I also liked when people bought the banana bread. It made me feel good.”

Burke’s children, 12-year-old Blake and 9-year-old Brooke, made lemonade for the event. The siblings had started their own mobile lemonade service in July, and their mother said this was their first big event. 

Blake’s friend Holden Beth said he enjoyed writing to his new pen pal, Mr. Crown. He also liked learning about money and doing something to help others.

“You never know which childhood memories stick with children,” Burke said. “As parents, we try and do our best to create ones that will build good character.”

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.