For as long as he can recall, birthday celebrations have been a big deal, in high school student Robert Wachen’s family.
“We always made this vanilla cake for my dad for his birthday and really enjoyed it. It was 100 percent homemade and that’s when we started getting into cake decorating,” explained Wachen.
Wachen’s love for baking birthday cakes for family members led him to launch a local chapter of the “National Birthday Cakes 4 Free” non-profit organization, in 2015.
Wachen, and his sister Allison Wachen, co-founded the organization.
“It’s very important to us, and we realized how important it is to other people which makes us more sympathetic to people who don’t get that chance. And, that’s why we wanted to create this organization,” Wachen said.
The Montgomery County chapter is made up of about 500 volunteers who, every month, bake more than 160 birthday cakes from scratch.
“One of our cakes is a minion, and the other was a baseball. I like decorating and making cakes because it’s a fun experience too, and you know that you’re giving to people who don’t have enough,” explained sixth-grade volunteer, Naima Chokhaliq.
The cakes are frosted, decorated, and ready for candles by the time volunteers drop them off for distribution to 22 local organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Bethesda Cares.
“It’s always a fun experience to have a cake on your birthday and to the people who don’t get them, it’s nice to give back,” said sixth-grade volunteer, Asher Coelho.
Since the organization started, Wachen said more than 3,000 cakes have been delivered.
“It’s more about telling the person that they’re valued in their community and giving people a sense of family. So Birthday Cakes 4 Free likes to come in and be that sense of community for them,” Wachen said.
Wachen will be graduating high school in 2020, but he said he already has his eye on a member to continue Birthday Cakes 4 Free.