How an 8-year-old woman did one thing about Guelph’s meals insecurity (9 photographs)

Victoria Boulding never thought her cookiegram initiative would blow up the way it did.

The eight-year-old Guelph girl, who just wanted to bake and sell some cookies, ended up raising $1,456 for the Guelph Food Bank after people across the community jumped at the opportunity to support her. 

“It blew up,” said Victoria’s mother Catherine. 

“We didn’t really expect it to. I thought a few friends and family would support and we might go with 100 bucks to the food bank but it absolutely exploded.”

Catherine said her daughter Victoria has always had a big heart. She would paint nails in the family and sell stories to collect money in a piggy bank dedicated to charity. 

When Valentine’s Day was approaching, she decided to bake cookies to raise money, something her mom did as a girl scout when she was younger. 

After looking through different charities in Guelph, Victoria settled on the Guelph Food Bank.

“She said ‘I want to help people who don’t have money to have food for themselves,’” said Catherine. 

With the help of her mom, Victoria created prototypes, designs, and packaging for the cookies. She also practiced a sales pitch which was recorded by Catherine and posted on her Facebook page. 

Catherine said after posting it on Facebook while the family was enjoying their family movie night, the order forms were filling up within minutes. 

“I quickly paused the movie and I said you guys have to look at this. I showed them the screen and every couple of minutes we would see another order come through,” said Catherine. 

“We never thought it would be as big as it was and it just shows you how a community can come together to support not only someone that they care about but people that care about the community were involved.”

Each Cookie Gram was priced at $2.00 and personally baked and packaged by Victoria and her siblings to be delivered the day before Valentine’s Day. 

Catherine said real estate agents, businesses, fitness instructors and organizations who never met Victoria began ordering the cookies just to support the initiative. 

“It makes me happy for others and for my family,” said Victoria. 

“It feels good because I’m giving the money to the people who need it.”

With orders pouring in, Victoria and her three siblings Emma,12, Johnny, 9 and Benjamin, 6, spent 17 hours baking, decorating and packaging 486 cookies to deliver across the city. 

“Then her school shared it on Twitter, it turned into a huge initiative,” said Catherine adding that many people loved the fact that they could purchase it and send it to somebody else.

Celebrating Victoria & her generous Hurricane Heart! Victoria & her family, created & sold cookie-grams for Valentines Day to share love with family & friends. They raised over $1000 for the @guelphfoodbank. Victoria – we are proud of you! @WellingtonCath

— Holy Trinity Guelph (@GoHurricanesGo) February 7, 2021

She said while it started off with Victoria’s project, it resonated with all of the children.

“It taught her to give back to the community, and when you do that, you will see how many people will support you and get involved in that initiative.

She said the initiative taught her responsibility and the importance of preparation before kicking off an initiative. It also taught her about the willingness to reach out to other sources which in this case were chefs who taught her best practices in baking. 

“It taught her to work as a team in the end. It wasn’t something that we were going to be able to do on our own. It was something that without her brothers and sisters and stepdad, there was no way we would be able to accomplish all of it without their help and support,” said Catherine. 

Pauline Cripps, administrator at the Guelph Food Bank said the youth of Guelph really step up with their creativity when it comes to supporting the Guelph Food Bank

“It’s amazing. It’s incredibly important,” said Cripps adding that the Guelph Food bank relies entirely on community donations. 

“Seeing youth engaged at such a young age is really great. I think it impacts the parents as well and it serves as a great long-term point to teach people what we’re doing here about the issues in our community.”

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