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'They are loved' | Free birthday cakes for Blount County kids in foster care

You can't have a birthday without having cake, but that's the reality for many in foster care. One Maryville bakery wants to change that.

MARYVILLE, Tenn. — Kids look forward to their birthday each year, including what kind of cake they'll get.

But some children who grow up in foster care don't have that opportunity, and a bakery in Blount County is making sure that's not the case.

Erin Holloway and her mom Angela Lemanski are really good at decorating cakes.

"I'm thinking over 10,000 cakes maybe," said Lemanski.

The pair has fed Maryville's sweet tooth for eight years from their bakery, Art of Cakes.

"Our favorite part has been seeing how happy it makes all the kids in the community," said Holloway.

A story from one regular customer started a new movement to spread love through cake.

"She was telling us about how she grew up in foster care and that, where she grew up, she never had a birthday until she was 11 years old because every every home she was in would have birthday parties for their kids," said Holloway. "And then when it was her birthday, she'd never even get a 'happy birthday' from home or anything. And we thought that was so sad."

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So Art of Cakes did something about it.

"We thought [making cakes is] something we do every day, so why not offer it for all the local kids," said Holloway.

Foster care nonprofit Isaiah 117 House pitched them the idea, and Art of Cakes is now giving free six-inch birthday cakes to all Blount County kids in foster care.

"A lot of them just feel a little lost," said Tamara Miller, Blount County expansion coordinator and board president for Isaiah 117 House. "This is just one other way to show these kiddos that they are loved and they're not forgotten and they're not alone."

Hollow shared the news on Facebook and was flooded with hundreds of emails from people wanting to use or help out the new initiative.

Kids can pick their cake flavor, icing color, decoration and message for the top.

More than 100 foster parents have already put their orders in for 2020.

"My favorite part has been just seeing how happy people are when they email us," said Holloway. "They just can't believe that there's somewhere that offers this. We didn't realize that there was such a need."

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A need for love in the form of a cake.

Right now this is just for kids in foster care in Blount County.

Their foster parent will have to bring proof they're in the system..    

Art of Cakes is accepting donations to make more of these cakes.

They're hoping to work with other bakeries across East Tennessee to expand this program to more kids.

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