Michael Platt of Maryland bakes sweet treats to help the less fortunate.
- Posted on May 26, 2020
Who he is: Michael Platt, a 14- year-old from Bowie, Maryland, is the founder of Michaels Desserts. Born with “an epic sweet tooth,” he fell in love with baking at age nine, helping his grandmother make a cake. Intrigued, he began watching baking videos. Michael was also learning from his parents about income inequality and childhood hunger, and he wanted to fight those injustices. Since his diagnosis with severe epilepsy at 10, Michael has been homeschooled by his mother, Danita.
With his activities restricted, he threw himself into baking. After his parents gave him Toms shoes, he discovered that firm’s one-for-one model of giving—and inspiration struck. In 2017, with his parents’ help, he founded Michaels Desserts. For every dessert sold, the bakery donates one to the homeless or hungry. Michael deliberately left the apostrophe out of his company’s name as a reminder that he’s baking for others, not himself.
What he does: Michael sells about 170 treats a month, mostly cupcakes, made in the family kitchen. He delivers to domestic violence shelters and transitional housing as well as to the homeless in McPherson Square in Washington, D.C. Flavors range from Spicy S’Mores to Vegan Mocha and cookies such as macarons.
But Michael is most invested in his monthly “Freedom Fighter” cupcakes, which honor such figures as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, whose cupcake is mint chocolate chip (her nickname was Minty), and Martin Luther King Jr., whose cupcake has a sweet potato pie filling based on a traditional African-American dessert. Customer Stephanie Gerstenblith says Michael’s cupcakes are not only delicious and beautiful but have inspired her “to provide everyone with sweetness in their lives.”
Michael also hosts bake sales for the nonprofit No Kid Hungry. Jessica Bomberg, a leader of fund-raising for No Kid Hungry who’s worked closely with Michael, says, “Young heroes like Michael give us hope for the future. He proves that everyone can make an impact in their community and for kids nationwide.”
Why he does it: “My faith means it’s part of my and everyone’s responsibility to take care of others,” Michael says. “When I see people are hungry, I want to give them something. It’s my way of telling them that they haven’t been forgotten.” Michael plans to continue both his advocacy and his baking, with the goal of creating a pay-what-you-can grocery store. The way he sees it, “food is a right, not a privilege.”
How you can do it: Pick a problem you want to solve, big or small, something you’re passionate about, and do all you can to solve it. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Buy a meal for someone who’s homeless. “Kids can make a big difference,” Michael says. “I’ve always known that cupcakes aren’t going to solve hunger, but I do what I can—and you can too.”
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