This Bakery is Making Graduation Sweeter for Over 1,000 Students

This act-of-kindness has benefited more than just the graduates and their families.

Jun 10, 2020

Graduating from high school is a time for celebrating even during a pandemic. One bakery in Red Wing Minnesota wants to make this time even sweeter for area seniors. That’s why the owner of Hanisch Bakery decided to give each one a graduation cake.

“Our seniors are going to be missing out on so much, so many opportunities and events, that I just felt like I needed to do something. And cake makes people happy,” the bakery’s owner Bill Hanisch told CNN.

When he first decided to do this act-of-kindness, Hanisch said he was thinking about the 200 graduates in the town’s high school whose commencement ceremony was cancelled due to the coronavirus. He decided that he would give each graduate a free two-layer, round, 7-inch cake that was decorated in the school colors. 

“I have a lot of crazy ideas, and sometimes they're really good," he said. "You can still celebrate with your immediate family and what's a better way than with cake?”

 The inspiration came from a very unlikely source according to Today. During a pandemic briefing in April, the state’s governor Tim Walz started talking about Red Wing.  Hanisch told Today, “He just had kind words to say about our town.”

That’s when he knew he had to do something for the graduates. After all, he is a 1988 graduate of the same school.

So, Hanisch posted a message on Facebook to announce that he was making the cakes for the local graduates and a short time after the first post, Hanisch received a call from the neighboring town Goodhue asking if he was going to do something for their graduates too.

“I was floored!” said Hanisch. “The next day, I did another post announcing the Goodhue cakes. Next thing I know, a lady from Cannon Falls contacts me and wants to support her seniors! I posted that video the next day and then the rest is history.”

At the same time that the orders were increasing, donations started coming in too. This allowed Hanisch and his staff to keep taking and filling the graduation cake orders.

All the cakes feature the schools’ colors – purple and white for Red Wing – and the local kids get to have their names on their cakes.

The bakery is making cakes for 14 schools in area towns and the deliveries have been spaced out to coincide with the graduation dates. Hanisch told Goodnet that the last 250 cakes are being delivered to South Saint Paul on June 12, 2020. But no one is being left out. He is selling highly discounted cakes for graduates in other communities.

When the initiative started, the coffee shop end of the bakery was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The wholesale end of the business was decimated. Hanisch estimates that he lost 60 percent of his business. But he has kept all 21 full-time employees working thanks to the donations that have come in.

At the same time, he managed to make graduation a lot sweeter for 1,144 kids (and orders are still coming in) and their families. Now that is something to really celebrate!

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.