Providing birthday treat for ill children

Administration worker Rachel Jenkinson, of Balclutha, is behind Operation Sugar, which provides free custom-made birthday cakes to seriously ill children. Photo by Helena de Reus.
Administration worker Rachel Jenkinson, of Balclutha, is behind Operation Sugar, which provides free custom-made birthday cakes to seriously ill children. Photo by Helena de Reus.
A spoonful of sugar may just help the medicine go down as a new nationwide charity aims to bring a smile to the faces of seriously ill youngsters.

Balclutha woman Rachel Jenkinson launched Operation Sugar two months ago after hearing about similar projects overseas. The cause provides free custom-made birthday cakes to seriously ill or frequently hospitalised children.

More than 300 bakers around the country have offered to make cakes and in the past few weeks about 50 families have registered interest.

Mrs Jenkinson thought it was a "wonderful idea" and knew New Zealanders would jump at the chance to help out fellow Kiwis.

"I love cake decorating and knew that there would be heaps of other bakers like myself who would jump at the chance to be able to utilise their passion for cake decorating in helping kids and their families who are going through a rough time."

There were 10 Southland bakers along with one from Fiordland and a handful in South and Central Otago who had offered to make cakes for children in the region, Mrs Jenkinson said.

No Southland families had yet applied for an Operation Sugar cake but a Gore baker would be providing a cake for Camp Quality in Gore.

As a mother of three, Mrs Jenkinson said she could not imagine how she would cope if one of her children became seriously ill.

She said a woman who had lost her child said one of her most cherished memories was his last birthday and how thrilled he was with his birthday cake.

"If we can bring a smile and a distraction from what some of these families are going through on a day-to-day basis, it is so worthwhile," she said.

People wanting contact information for Operation Sugar can go to www.operationsugar.org.nz.

• Rebecca Wilson is an SIT journalism student.