reena baked it toronto

Toronto challah baker donates a portion of proceeds to a different charity every month

A Toronto baker who makes challah and other breads has been using her skills to raise money for different charities every month.

Challahs usually range from about $10 to $12, and not only do the illusion-like knots of bread look enticing, but they also come in delicious flavours like Nutella, cheese, cinnamon sugar and raisin. There also might be items on offer like a beer bread mixer loaf made with local craft beer.

"I started baking for charity back in June. With everything going on in the world, I was feeling helpless and a bit lost. When I feel that way, I bake and it gives me a feeling of wholeness. I just wanted to do better and more, even if it was in a small way," Reena Newman of Reena Baked It told blogTO.

"Each week, orders need to be placed by Wednesday for Friday pickup in Roncesvalles, although I do have some people pick up from the kitchen I use in Vaughan. At the end of the month, I donate a portion of the proceeds, and pick a new charity. Right now, orders are taken through DM on Instagram, but I've got a webstore in the works."

She's been a food photographer for a decade, and over the months has raised over $2,500 for various charities.

"I try to pick charities that can really benefit from the small amount I'm able to donate. Mostly local charities that have an immediate need, or organizations that speak to me personally. I often take polls to see what charities my customers feel strongly about," says Newman. "Baking once a week, I've raised $2,650 since starting in June."

The charity for February 2020 was Humewood House, a children's mental health organization for pregnant and parenting youth. Having started up this project in June of 2020 means Newman has been doing this for almost a full year now, raising money for around 10 charities.

"The response had been mind-blowing. My first month was to raise funds for Foodshare Toronto and Not Another Black Life. The response was so great I had to move out of my home kitchen and into my friend Jon's catering kitchen," says Newman.

"I didn't think this little bakery of mine would keep bringing people in and every week I start to worry that my project has run its course. Every week I am pleasantly surprised by returning and new customers. People have been so unbelievably supportive and excited about what I'm doing, it's really thrilling."

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