By Sarah Hofius Hall The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.
One cup sugar. Two large eggs. One-third cup cocoa powder. A half-cup of flour.
When Izzy DeFlice mixes these ingredients together and bakes them for 20 minutes, she gets a pan of brownies. She also gets a recipe for helping others.
Twelve-year-old Izzy started baking this spring, selling her cookies, cupcakes and brownies at events throughout Scranton. So far, Izzy has made $2,000. Her latest donation supported the efforts of the Catherine McAuley Center -- the very place she and her mother turned to when they found themselves homeless 10 years ago.
"When I was little, we didn't have a lot," the sixth-grade student at West Scranton Intermediate School said. "I want to give back to the community."
This spring, while reading her American Girl magazine, Izzy saw a notice encouraging children to hold bake sales for the organization No Kid Hungry.
Besides helping her mom bake a few batches of cookies at Christmas, Izzy had no baking experience. But the honor roll student, who loves dancing and her woodshop class at school, wanted to help feed hungry children.
She and her mom, Mary-Pat DeFlice, found recipes for gooey chocolate brownies and vanilla cupcakes. Ms. DeFlice figured she would help her daughter organize one bake sale, maybe two.
"Obviously, it became a lot more," Ms. DeFlice said, laughing.
This summer and fall, with signs advertising Izzy's Sweets Bake Sale, Izzy sold her sweets at art shows, plays, festivals and farmers markets. Proceeds from the $1 cupcakes and 50-cent cookies started to add up quickly.
Ms. DeFlice and her boyfriend, Doug Ward, pay for all of the supplies, just adding the ingredients to their weekly grocery bill. That way, everything that Izzy sells can go directly to the cause.
Mr. Ward called Izzy's efforts "extraordinary."
Finding help Izzy was only 18 months old when she and her mom needed help from the McAuley Center in South Scranton.
They stayed in the shelter for almost a month and then moved to the transitional housing program. With the help of the center, they moved to a small West Scranton apartment. Ms. DeFlice picked out some furniture and gave herself a goal of finishing school.
That first Christmas in their apartment, through the adopt-a-family program, someone bought Ms. DeFlice a coffeepot. The small gesture that showed someone cared made a lasting impact.
With the proceeds from more recent bake sales, Izzy and her mom adopted two families this Christmas, buying bedding, toys and other items.
"There was something poetic about getting two single moms," Ms. DeFlice said. "It's something special about being able to provide that."
While in the transitional housing program, Ms. DeFlice found support for her future. She earned a paralegal degree from the McCann School of Business and Technology and got a job as a legal assistant at the Women's Resource Center. She got an apartment of her own and was able to support herself and Izzy.
"In these times, when things are overwhelming, I just think about where we were 10 years ago," Ms. DeFlice said. "I was living in a shelter out of a suitcase."
Sweet future In her West Scranton kitchen, after her homework is done, Izzy gently stirs the dry ingredients for brownies into the mixture of eggs, oil and sugar.
Izzy has big dreams of expanding her efforts.
Through a Facebook contest, Izzy won a rebranding from Shanty Town, a local design company that is creating a logo and other promotional material for Izzy's Sweets. She is also in the early stages of working with the Scranton Area Foundation to become a nonprofit organization.
While she is still donating some of her proceeds to No Kid Hungry and plans to donate more to the McAuley Center, she would eventually like to donate to even more local organizations.
"I really want to help others," she said.