© 2013 Lions Clubs New Zealand
CHRISTMAS CAKES HELP FILL THE COFFERS
Back in 1971, when Mike Brooke and his newly formed Pukekura Lions Club in New Plymouth were looking for a fundraising project a bit different from selling raffle tickets, Mike heard about an Australian club that was selling Christmas cakes.
Mike's wife's uncle happened to be a baker, so Mike asked him to bake 200 cakes for Christmas. The 200 sold in a matter of days. Next year, other clubs had cottoned onto the fundraising idea and asked for Christmas cakes to sell, too. Mike went to his baker and asked him if he could bake a thousand cakes.
"He said 'I can't do that many, I'm flat out as it is!'"
Enter Ernest Adams.
"I got in touch with them and they made a special cake just for us. It was a great cake and a better deal. They had a very good reputation from the beginning; the cakes were moist, they kept for a long time, and they were delicious!
"We wanted a good quality cake; we'd said we wanted the cake to last and be moist - all the things you expect from a good Christmas cake.
"The cake they made was so good, and it was exclusive to us. Ralph, the nephew of Ernest Adams, created a special recipe cake that was not sold to anyone else. In fact one of the staff members of Ernest Adams rang us to ask if he could have it for his wedding cake. We said 'yes.'
"The Christmas cakes went on for a number of years and then it was decided a Christmas pudding might be a good idea too, but Rotary clubs were selling them so we didn't proceed. Before long, Christmas hampers were created - and these are still going strong.
Lions Christmas Cakes are still made to the original recipe, 40 years on. The packaging has been freshened up, but nothing else has changed. Millions of dollars have been raised over the years - and it has all gone back to the clubs and the community projects they support.
"We are out to get a quality product, specified in the Lions name and all proceeds go to charity. The clubs decide what charity they are going to support from the proceeds.
Mike's New Plymouth club has since folded, but he has retained his involvement as project convenor. What was once a very time consuming task is now a lot more manageable, with clubs ordering direct from Ernest Adams.
“The Lions Christmas Cakes team have negotiated a major breakthrough with the ‘Powers That Be’ – the shelf life has been increased from one year to two.
“The two-year shelf life means that Goodman Fielder can confidently bake sufficient product to fulfil all orders. In the past we have had issues with supply because the manufacturer didn’t want unsold stock either.
“The wholesale price will remain the same as last year in spite of increases in raw materials. This is at the goodwill of Goodman Fielder/Ernest Adams. The last date for ordering is 30 November, this being due to delivery by courier.
“The Lions Christmas Cakes project is 40 years old and has raised millions of dollars for Lions’ charitable work. The project is run by Lions for Lions, and all profits go to the Clubs who sell the product.”
Story by Linda George