Mass cremations, bodies washing up from rivers, misreported death counts, these are but a few in the long list of the horrors of the COVID pandemic in India. You find yourself scrolling through social media every day to see devastating news, or a friend desperately searching for hospital beds and oxygen tanks for their family, and you feel absolutely hopeless with no way to help them. The COVID fatigue washes over you, painting your emotions a dull grey, your tears falling within the safety of your home while other people fight to live, to breathe. You feel helpless because you don’t know what to do, and you feel petrified that the next person appealing to strangers on Instagram will be you.

Credit: @goodslice’s Instagram.

In these times of despair, fundraising for COVID relief has seen many forms. Several citizens and organizations have been trying their best to connect people to the resources they require, and money is a necessity for them to carry on doing so. Mumbai-based baker Neysa Mendes found a way to motivate people to open their wallets, by initiating the #BakeForIndia fundraiser on Instagram. It began with Mendes’ personal attempt at selling 10 dark chocolate tarts to raise money for the Hemkunt Foundation providing free oxygen cylinders to COVID patients. On her professional account @goodslice on Instagram, she posted about “Bake For India ~ A Good Slice Fundraiser for Covid Relief” and stated that 100% of the proceeds would be donated. After seeing the success of this initiative she made another post, this time encouraging other bakers and chefs to contribute and make it a national movement.

This propelled a #BakeForIndia movement all across the country, with participants contributing a variety of foods, ranging from brownies and Bundt cakes to tarts and mango pudding. After registering to partake in this bake sale, the chef or baker was responsible for selling at least 10 units of a specific item and choosing a charity organization to contribute to. Mendes also asked that they send the donation receipts to her in order to maintain transparency and ensure the money was reaching the intended organizations. It is for this purpose that Mendes includes a Google Sheet open to public viewing in Good Slice Instagram bio where anyone can see the brands and how many funds they raised. Thanks to #BakeForIndia, COVID relief funds have been raised for several NGOs along with the Hemkunt Foundation, including Khaana Chahiye, Milaap, and Give India.

The #BakeForIndia fundraiser also inspired home cooks and bakers to try their hand at making a difference and allowed them to use their creativity for a greater good. While the COVID situation is far from over, this virtual bake sale allowed many to lend a helping hand in their own ways.