Cornell University students from six campus organizations spent two weeks in October supporting the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest and the Cupcake Button fundraising campaign for mental health.
Participating groups included Cornell Circle K, Alpha Phi Omega, Phi Sigma Pi, PATCH (Pre-Professional Association Toward Careers in Health), Cornell Health International, and Reflect at Cornell.
In remarks at the cupcake contest awards ceremony on October 15, Max Fante, a Cornell Circle K leader, thanked Ithaca mental health providers for supporting student wellbeing.
“Students around the world are constantly struggling, with worries of failure and disappointment,” he said. “Without any direction or help, they find themselves lost. The young mind is especially fragile, as we are taking our experiences, and shaping how we respond to stress and decision making in the future. Your support for such an important cause is critical for students.”
Cupcake Contest: The Morning Crew
Fante and his fellow student volunteers spent the first two weeks of October raising funds for the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The annual Cupcake Button campaign is coordinated by The Sophie Fund to support mental health organizations in the greater Ithaca community.
At the contest, also organized by The Sophie Fund, the student volunteers set up the venue, ran contest registration, served as preliminary-round judges, created special award certificates, and cleaned the event space afterwards.
Cupcake Contest: The Afternoon Crew
“We are immensely grateful for the support of Cornell student organizations,” said Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund. “The students are fantastic advocates for mental health on campus, and their efforts to raise money supports the vital work of Ithaca community mental health organizations. And, the student volunteers help us make the cupcake contest a mental health awareness event every year.”
Cornell Circle K is a student organization committed to doing meaningful service through direct community engagement, developing its members to be the successful leaders today, and being an advocate for positive change in order to create a better world for humanity.
Cornell Circle K members
In our latest initiative, Cornell Circle K organized a mental wellness kit fundraiser to support mental health in Ithaca and on the Cornell University campus and to benefit The Sophie Fund. Our members sold hot chocolate kits with peppermint candies, Mind Your Mind stickers, mental health resources, and Sophie Fund buttons and stickers to encourage a healthy start to Cornell’s 2021 spring semester.
We were in contact with other Cornell organizations and club members in order to spread an engaging message of support and to remove the stigma associated with accessing help for mental health improvement. Especially under the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, it is easy for students to feel isolated and overwhelmed with stress. Our fundraiser had the goal to relieve this stress for students undergoing these unprecedented times. Altogether, Cornell Circle K sold 65 mental wellness kits and raised a total of $243.00 for The Sophie Fund.
“The stigma attached to mental health can make it a difficult conversation to start on campus. The collaboration with The Sophie Fund and Cornell Circle K provided us with an exciting opportunity to start those conversations, as well as raise awareness about the need for strong support and resources,” said Julia Fan, co-president of Cornell Circle K.
Cornell Circle K’s mental health kit
Brendon Nguyen, also co-president of Cornell Circle K, mentioned: “I am so glad Circle K connected with The Sophie Fund to put together a fundraiser to spread some joy while also sharing mental wellness resources with more of the Cornell community. During my early years at Cornell, I remember feeling so isolated with my anxiety, but I was lucky to have a lot of support to normalize conversations around mental wellness and eventually seeking professional help. After hearing about The Sophie Fund’s mission, it seemed like a no-brainer to support a local nonprofit that actively works towards helping more youth take better care of their mental health. The more we can do to support each other’s mental wellness, the more we can accomplish and the better off we are.”
“We are honored that Cornell Circle K chose us for its mental wellness initiative,” said Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund. “Beyond that, we are so grateful to see Cornell students supporting each other, and working to break down the stigma about seeking help for mental health.”
Preparing the Ithaca Children’s Garden
Founded in 1936, Cornell Circle K is a campus-based, student-led, inclusive service organization. It is a proud and active member of Circle K International, the world’s largest student-led collegiate service organization, and maintains close connections with the International K Family (Kiwanis, Key Club, Builders Club, and Aktion Club). Circle K International boasts a membership of more than 11,000 collegiate service leaders on more than 500 campuses worldwide. This organization is based around three tenets: service, leadership, and fellowship.
Throughout the year, Cornell Circle K completes various service kits to get involved around the Ithaca community and beyond. During the fall 2020 semester, members wrote letters to residents and healthcare workers at a Hattie Larlham care facility in Ohio to encourage wellbeing and show support for those at risk of Covid-19. Members also crafted baby blankets out of fleece cloth for Arnot Health Hospitals in Elmira. Another service kit with tissue paper carnations and no slip socks was done for seniors at Ithaca area nursing homes. Dog toys were also created as a service kit to support local animal shelters.
Past fundraisers by Cornell Circle K have supported other local community organizations. During the fall semester of 2020 we completed a sticker fundraiser supporting the Multicultural Center of Ithaca, which has a passion for eliminating barriers in racial justice, cultural development and representation, and equity and inclusion.
We have raised money for Cayuga Dog Rescue, a local rescue shelter, which made it possible for one of their dogs, Snowball, to spend the day at Cornell Vet Hospital’s oncology clinic having some mammary tumors evaluated. Two other rescues, Sammy and Toby, also received winter coats, special treats, brain teaser puzzles, and tug toys.
Cornell Circle K has also been involved with the Cayuga Nature Center helping prepare the garden for winter as well as the Ithaca Children’s Garden pulling weeds and raking leaves. Our service and volunteer projects are wide-ranging but have a focus on communal unity and support.
—By Max Fante
Max Fante ’24 is the Fundraising Committee Chair for Cornell Circle K. He is a Biological Sciences major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.