Sprinkled With Love: Oak Knoll Baking Club Treats Overlook Health Care Workers

Jodie De Jesus ’21 and Nora Quinn ’21 have each seen first-hand how much time and compassion that health care workers dedicate to their patients.

So, with COVID-19 still prevalent in area hospitals, the classmates didn’t hesitate to mobilize their own way of giving back.

Last week, coincidentally on Giving Tuesday, De Jesus and Quinn – founders of the Oak Knoll Baking Club – spearheaded an effort by more than 20 bakers from grades 7-12 to make approximately 300 fresh goods for delivery to each floor at Overlook Medical Center.

De Jesus’ mother, an RN at Overlook who works with COVID-19 patients in the respiratory department (and essential worker father who distributes supplies to Overlook and other Atlantic Health hospitals) then distributed the baked goods to every floor at Overlook.

“Health care workers spend their days taking care of members of the community while putting themselves at risk,” said Quinn, who witnessed their compassion first hand after two surgeries of her own when she was younger. “Showing our appreciation through baking was a way we could give back a little bit.”

Some of the goodies that De Jesus and Quinn collected for distribution included chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, rice crispy treats, muffins, brownies and some of the health care workers’ favorites — pumpkin bread, coconut cookies and cake pops.

The OKS Baking Club also added notes of gratitude from students to each donation and decorated the treats with ribbons to show their support from a distance.

Before COVID-19 hit, the Baking Club also served others by donating baked goods to the homeless through Bridges Outreach in New York City and since had to postpone their work with the Market Street Mission programs when school turned remote.

“As a school, we are so giving, and it’s amazing that we make efforts to foster such a sense of service into the student experience, as well,” said De Jesus. “This inspires me to get involved in other nonprofits outside of school, and I’m hoping to continue doing so throughout college and when I’m older.”

For now, De Jesus and Quinn – who both find volunteering such a rewarding experience – plan on continuing their efforts to aid healthcare workers.

“Their fight during this pandemic is not over yet, so we will continue supporting them as long as it takes,” said Quinn.

De Jesus agrees. “Oak Knoll has given so many great opportunities for students to get involved,” she said.

As advisors to the Baking Club, both Upper School Foreign Language teacher Rebecca Mull and Upper School Theology teacher Sarah Sicari said that De Jesus’s and Quinn’s joy of baking was inherently tied to an even greater desire to serve.

“From its very conception, and long before signs of a global pandemic, Jodie and Nora always expressed a genuine desire to serve – that is just who they are at their core,” said Sicari.

“They are two very special young women who believe that God inspires us through our talents and joy,” Sicari said. “So, it was not surprising to see these two extraordinary young women merge their love of baking and call to serve. It’s who they are.”

Kaitlin kramer makes masks for health care heroes.