Cookies for Cans: Mesa bakery collecting food items in exchange for pastries

An Arizona business owner who struggled to keep her doors open because of COVID-19 is counting her blessings and giving back.

"I'm a trained chef over 35 years and back in 2010, I decided to focus on the sweeter side of life," said Julie Smith, owner of Mesa bakery Cupcakesters.

Smith opened her bakery right as the pandemic hit.

"So we survived the first few months when we opened in July," Smith said. "Being a new business, seasons roll around, the holidays roll around, we were riding high - and then this past summer everything sort of died off."

However, Smith says Mesa is a sweet place to live, and the community started rallying around her. Now, it's her turn to give back. 

"I want to give back, I want to show where my heart is and help the next person so maybe that they can give back and pay it forward as well," Smith said.

Smith is collecting cans of non-perishable food items in exchange for cupcakes or hand-rolled, hand-cut sugar cookies.

"What we are specifically looking for is bread, peanut butter, jelly, and boxes of crackers so that we can feed people who aren't able to have a roof over their head and appliances to bake with or cook with," she said.

The bakery has chosen to help out A New Leaf Men's Center, which helps men facing homelessness, and Community Medical Services, which helps those dealing with substance abuse.

Smith will be collecting cans until Dec. 20.

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