Online, Waco-based cookie shops chip in for charity

Andrea Smedshammer, owner of The Cookie Barn, shows off some of her cookies. A portion of the profit of each sale goes to Encourage One Another, a local nonprofit that helps adoptive and foster families. Photo courtesy of The Cookie Barn

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

Small cookie shops give more than just a sugar rush to the Waco community by using their handmade products to give back to others.

Without storefronts, some Waco cookie shops such as Milk Bottle Cookies and The Cookie Barn take advantage of pick-up, delivery and shipping sales to make a profit that they turn around and use to support teachers and families.

Mackenzie Asisi, owner of Milk Bottle Cookies, runs her business online through her website and Instagram, but what she loves most about the business is being able to feed people.

In August, Milk Bottle donated over a thousand cookies, a little over $5,000 worth of cookies, to the faculty and staff of schools around the Waco area: Lorena Primary School, Woodgate Intermediate School, Spring Valley Elementary School, Castleman Creek Elementary School, and South Bosque Elementary School.

“I love to feed people. That is my love language, I want to feed you. So that is my all-time favorite being able to be in the position to give all of these cookies away,” Asisi said.

When Milk Bottle first opened, Asisi gave back-to-school cookies to her kids and their teachers. Her cookie donations expanded to the whole school and then to multiple other schools.

“Teachers, their job already is to be our teachers, our mentors, our psychiatrists, our family,” Asisi said. “They have to be so many other things, I can’t imagine having to add on this COVID-19 situation and what they’re going through.”

She plans on donating her cookies again in February to keep the morale of the school year up.

Similarly, The Cookie Barn, another online cookie shop, boasts “a cookie with purpose.” Part of each order is donated to Encourage One Another, a nonprofit organization that helps support foster and adoptive families.

Owner of The Cookie Barn, Andrea Smedshammer started her business with the intention to fundraise for the organization with a portion of the proceeds from sales.

“We are a family who has adopted, and we are also foster parents. It is something we have a real passion for and this was just a way for us to help raise money for this organization so that they would have more money to help more families,” Smedshammer said.

The business idea started with a fundraiser her son was a part of for his baseball team. Smedshammer sold over 1,800 cookies in two and a half weeks selling her family’s favorite cookie, oatmeal with cinnamon frosting, a recipe passed down from their grandma.

“Everyone responded so well, I had a lot of encouragement from friends saying, ‘Hey, you should do this as a business,’” Smedshammer said. “I was asked to be on the board of Encourage One Another and part of our responsibility is also fundraising so it got my wheels turning. I thought what if I start the cookie business and part of the proceeds went to help these foster and adoptive families.”

Since opening The Cookie Barn in March, Smedshammer has donated about $1,200 to Encourage One Another.

These small businesses don’t have storefronts, but they still make their presence known to the causes that pull on their heartstrings. Asisi believes you don’t have to be wildly successful to give back.

“You don’t have to be successful in order for you to be able to give, there are so many things you could give for free,” Asisi said. “A lot of people misconstrue that you have to be successful in order to start giving things for free or giving your time away.”