A high school junior in Fremont who's been giving away her baked goods to local homeless shelters since she was 13 has launched a nonprofit to mobilize other teens to do the same — and it's now grown to 10 chapters in eight states.

Vedika Jawa's hobby that turned into an altruistic enterprise grew out of her love for baking at a young age.

"As I ventured into my teenage years, I started to recognize so many problems in our world, and the one that stood out to me the most was homelessness," Jawa says. "I soon learned that a lot of people weren't homeless because of a fault of theirs, but instead because of socioeconomic factors. At the same time my passion for baking started to grow and that’s when Bake4Sake was born."

Jawa says that she initially approached a few local homeless shelters to ask if she could bake for them, and they refused, telling her she was too young. But after doing her own bake sales and fundraising for the effort, she went back and approached the CEOs in charge of the shelters, and pitched them again. This time it worked.

Jawa tells Hoodline that when the pandemic hit, the shelters she was baking for made her stop sharing her goods with them, so she sought out other partners like local food banks — and she began posting about her efforts on Instagram, seeking volunteers among her friends to help meet a growing demand. The South Hayward Parish food bank wanted baked goods for 300 families alone.

Jawa posing with Rep. Eric Swalwell outside South Hayward Parish last summer. Photo: Instagram

But after a few posts, Jawa saw an opportunity to expand across the country, knowing that similar needs had to be growing in every community.

"Before the pandemic, Bake4Sake was just four young girls trying to bake for 60 residents at the local shelter,” Jawa, now 16, tells Hoodline. “Now Bake4Sake’s mission has spread across the country.”

Teens who have joined Bake4Sake's mission across the country. Photo: Bake4Sake

"I think during quarantine, a lot of people had more time and were baking, and Bake4Sake helped them put their baking to good use," Jawa says.

There is now an army of 130 volunteers spread across eight states who are baking things for 17 homeless shelters — and Jawa estimates that more than 10,000 desserts have been donated as of early 2021.

Any teens interested in volunteering in their own communities, or starting their own Bake4Sake chapters, can email [email protected]