Celebrity chef Charity Pykles-George made the holiday season extra sweet for one 3-year-old organ transplant recipient.
Pykles-George,of the d'Zrt Cake Studio in La Mesa, Calif., and TLC's "Ultimate Cake-Off," donated one of her confectionary masterpieces to Avan Cook for his Dec. 24 birthday, which he might not have reached without his recent kidney transplant.
The cake, based on the Disney show "Jake and the Neverland Pirates," was donated by Pykles-George through her work with Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization that specializes in bringing a little joy to critically ill children and their families. The organization recruits professional bakers to whip up celebratory cakes and treats for kids in need of a smile.
Pykles-George well knows the struggles that children face when fighting chronic illnesses: Her own daughter battles leukemia. She spent 12 hours working on Avan's surprise, which featured chocolate cake, vanilla bean custard, salted caramel and toffee bits. It was adorned with a number of figurines made from modeling chocolate and fondant.
Since Icing Smiles' founding in 2010, its 1,300 volunteers nationwide have spent more than 200 hours a week creating sugary treats for children. The group donated more than 400 custom cakes in 2011.
Pykles-George, who is set to appear on a new Food Network show in 2012, is one of thousands of entrepreneurs who use their business and skills to give back.
Here are several other examples of the good that some businesses are doing.
What: It provides chocolate lovers with premium, all-natural and organic chocolates
The Good: All beans used in its products are purchased from family-owned properties where the income benefits the community, and 10 percent of the company's net profits are donated to fund species and habitat conservation efforts.
Connect: On Twitter @ESC_Chocolate; On Facebook: Endangered-Species-Chocolate
Who: Mr. Ellie Pooh
What: It offers 100 percent handmade journals, stationary, crafts, scrapbooks, photo albums and various grades of paper.
The Good: Mr. Ellie Pooh’s 100 percent recycled paper products are made of 50 percent fiber from elephant dung and 50 percent post-consumer paper. No toxic chemicals are used in the paper-making process. Natural vegetative binding agents are used, along with water-soluble salt dyes for coloring.
Connect: On Twitter @MrElliePooh; On Facebook: MrElliePooh
What: It is the manufacturer of magnetic wooden building blocks for kids
The Good: All the wood comes from sustainable forests in Honduras, where trees are harvested in a selective and controlled manner that allows the forest to properly regenerate. With each purchase, Tegu offers the buyer the opportunity to plant a new tree or send a Honduran child to school for a day.
Connect: On Twitter @Tegu; On Facebook: Tegu
What: It is a New York-based business consulting firm.
The Good: The company works with for-profit businesses that want to become more socially and environmentally responsible. Services include assisting with responsible sourcing, community involvement, sustainability and marketing initiatives.
Connect: On Twitter @sociallygoodbiz; On Facebook: sociallygoodbusiness
What: The company features a host of products, including a skin care line and candles, designed to help empower women and make them feel great about themselves.
The Good: It partners with charitable organizations ABAN and Thistle Farms to provide lunch for single mothers and their children for a year. The partnerships help women find refuge from lives of addiction, prostitution and abuse and prepare them for life after rehabilitation with intensive job-related training in computers and technology.
Connect: On Twitter @ConfidanteWoman; On Facebook: ConfidanteWoman
Who: Senda Athletics
What: It manufactures soccer balls under stringent fair trade standards that meet a number of social, economic and environmental criteria.
The Good: Every purchase helps Senda provide soccer equipment to organizations such as Soccer Without Borders and Defensores del Chaco, which are working to improve lives through sports.
Connect: On Twitter @SendaAthletics; On Facebook: Senda-Athletics
What: It is a national chain of residential pest management service providers
The Good: EcoFirst dedicates a portion of company profits annually to the nonprofit organization Nothing But Nets to provide insecticide-treated bed nets to countries with the greatest need.
Connect: On Twitter @ecofirstpest