SPRINGFIELD – Baking doesn’t only satisfy a sweet tooth. It’s an activity that assists with the learning of basic life skills.
“It helps teach math and safety,” said Debi Lyons, director of the Macoupin County Center for the Developmentally Disabled, a day learning center in Carlinville.
The center helps 20 adult students with developmental disabilities master social, educational and everyday living skills.
And once a year, the students jump full-steam-ahead into baking.
For three days, they bake cakes. And more cakes. And more cakes. Last year they made 118 cakes.
The many flavors of sheet cakes are donated to the cake stand at the annual Carlinville Lions Club Carnival, held Sept. 8 to 9 on the city’s downtown square.
At the cake stand, carnival-goers put down a quarter on a number and if that number comes up on a giant roulette wheel, that person wins a cake.
The quarters go to the Lions to help with a long list of charitable projects.
In addition to the cakes donated by the Macoupin County Center for the Developmentally Disabled, others are supplied by Lions Club members and local home bakers. Last year the cake stand was stocked with nearly 600 cakes of all kinds.
“The most popular cakes are chocolate, white, angel food, carrot, yellow, pineapple upside-down and red velvet. And brownies,” said Rita Barber Church, a Lions Club member and cake stand manager. It’s one of the 68-year-old carnival’s most popular attractions.
“It’s a sight to see 60 people standing three-deep at the booth,” she added.
The Carlinville Lions Club helps support the center, which gets no state or federal funding. So it’s become a tradition at the center to donate cakes to the Lion’s Club carnival.
“It’s our way of giving back,” said Lyons, who also teaches at the center.
One of the bakers this year is Maddie Lyon of Benld.
“I’ve always wanted to be a cook,” said the 21-year-old as she poured funfetti cake batter into an aluminum baking pan.
Susan Wolff of Brighton, 37, was sitting at a table with two others, spreading chocolate icing on a chocolate cake.
“This is my favorite flavor,” she said.
While some students washed bowls and spoons, others prepared and baked the box-mix cakes and decorated them.
“Each cake is different. Some of the students add food coloring to the cake. Or they write their name on the top or draw shapes,” said Lyons.
“These folks take great pride in their cakes,” said Church.