CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – As the holiday season envelopes Humphreys, those in quarantine due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may feel left out or especially isolated. Volunteers from across Humphreys, however, dedicated their Christmas Eve morning to support the volunteer-led Operation Cake for Quarantine, by baking, assembling and delivering individual cake cups for those in quarantine.
For the Christmas Eve donation, 75 volunteers split into two separate shifts – to comply with United States Forces Korea’s COVID-19 guidelines – baked 250 cakes and assembled 2500 individual cake cups, which were then delivered to quarantine facilities, emergency services and other military personnel throughout Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“Although I have personally not gone through quarantine, I can imagine how difficult that would be, especially for people who are single or unaccompanied and away from their families,” said Angela Peterson, a volunteer leader whose family began Operation Cake for Quarantine. “Just having something out of the ordinary, something homemade and maybe unexpected, because sometimes they don’t even request one and we’ll give as many as we can, is a great morale booster. We’ve gotten a lot of appreciative messages from people and that’s what touches us.”
Each individual cake cup is hand-crafted by a team of volunteers from all ages and backgrounds. The cups are filled halfway up with cake, then topped off with cream, frosting and sprinkles before being boxed up and hand delivered to each quarantine facility’s change of quarters staff.
“We were in quarantine and we know that it’s hard, especially with kids, so to have something special like a dessert or treat is a big deal,” said Becky Hall, a volunteer and community member who, along with her family, supports Operation Cake for Quarantine. “I hope it just makes their day a little brighter. It’s a long two weeks and we understand that. Just to know that people care about them and are spending their time and energy to do this for them, makes a big impact.”
Operation Cake for Quarantine originally began in June, as the Peterson family’s attempt to care for and help boost the spirits of those in quarantine. A total of 17,850 cake cups have been assembled and delivered since June, reaching every corner of Humphreys.
“My mom and I were on Facebook and we saw what people were posting about quarantine those first couple of weeks,” said Kiri Peterson, a student at Humphreys High School and the leading force and influence behind Operation Cake for Quarantine. “We felt really bad because they weren’t getting much, so we wanted to do something. We actually started by gathering other types of snacks. But, because of my cake business that I do, we had a lot of scraps leftover from making cake that we would just throw away. So, we decided to just start putting cake cups together out of those scraps for them.”
The operation quickly expanded beyond the Peterson family’s ability to meet the soaring demand however, prompting the events to attract the Humphreys community as volunteers.
“We could do about 150-200 cake cups by ourselves, but once we got about 300 requests, it got to be too big,” said Angela. “So, we started reaching out to the other cake makers in the area and started to get their scraps and pretty soon that didn’t even suffice. So it just grew from there. We had a lot of friends come over and people from the community were offering to help. People who were in quarantine reached out and asked ‘Hey, how can I help out with this project?’, and that’s where a lot of our volunteers actually come from. A lot of them have been in quarantine, got the cake cups and appreciated them so much that the then wanted to do it as well.”
Now, every week, Operation Cake for Quarantine holds assembling and delivery events, relying solely upon the Humphreys community for funding and donations.
“I have never been in a community like this before,” said Angela. “It is mind blowing the amount of support that we have gotten. We just ask for donations and volunteers. We do this every week. We make over 1,000 and sometimes 2,000 cake cups and that’s a lot of money. Each cake cup costs 50 cents, so we’re going through a lot of money and funds.”
The volunteering effort encompasses all of the Humphreys community, ranging from individual Soldiers and families to more coordinated efforts by teams and organizations across the post.
“We’ve had the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) team helping us, who came with two shopping carts and decorated and walked across post with 140 cakes,” said Angela. “These BOSS representatives made the cakes by themselves, are using their funding to buy eggs, oil, cake mixes and making all this stuff to help support us, and it’s so humbling to see this support.”
The Peterson family and the volunteers who support the cake cup assembly and delivery have received countless feedback messages and positive responses from those who have received their cake cups, reinforcing their desire to continue helping newly arrived community members, Soldiers and families who are in quarantine.
“The best feedback is when people who were in quarantine get out and come help us,” said Kiri. “They donate and they come to spend their time with us to make these cups, and I think that’s what really stands out. The more that people give back, the more that we can do to help the community.”
More information about how to support Operation Cake for Quarantine can be found at their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OperationCakeForQuarantine.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported us,” said Angela. “We’re doing this every single week, even though it may be stressful to see how this will happen and how we’re going to pull this off, somehow we always manage and it’s because of the community support. There’s no way our family can do this by ourselves, and we appreciate that.”