Lanne Stauffer continues to be taken aback by all the love she receives from her neighbors, as she reads from a stack of kind letters addressed to her.
“You are appreciated more than you know, thank you for making Tuesdays more special,” reads one card.
Though she might be surprised by the love, if you spend time in her kitchen on a Tuesday, it’s quite obvious why she gets it.
On this day every week, her kitchen turns into organized chaos as she spends all morning and afternoon baking 100 individual treats to be available to her neighbors by 3 p.m. sharp. Sometimes she has help, sometimes it’s just her. And she does it all for free.
“It was October and it was pretty dark with the pandemic coming back again. Everybody had thought through the summer it was gonna get better. Fall came and people were getting really sick again, and people were afraid,” said Stauffer about the origins of this idea.
It was when she received a free bouquet of flowers from a friend in October 2021 that she got the idea to create a Little Free Bakery, based on the idea of a Little Free Library bookcase on the street, spreading a little joy in an uncertain time.
Fast forward almost two years and the Little Free Bakery and her Instagram account, @littlefreebakerysea, where she posts her weekly menu, continues to be a hit.
“We have lots of elderly folks that come every week, we have so many kids that come, people that maybe live alone. There’s one woman that’s been coming since the first time, and her husband is bedridden and he loves dessert and she doesn’t bake. So this is the one day a week he gets dessert. So how can I stop? There’s still so much joy that it brings,” Stauffer said.
Her neighbors come every Tuesday at 3 p.m. sharp with gratitude and a sweet tooth for their dose of sugar, and more importantly, their dose of kindness.
“I think if you’re a baker, you wanna bake for people. That’s our love language. We’re not poets or artists, right? We just wanna bake and tell you how much we love you,” said Stauffer.
Stauffer’s pandemic experiment taught her how much a little heart and commitment can go in the lives of others and others have picked up on the idea too. Little Free Bakeries inspired by her have popped up elsewhere, like in Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and she hopes others start doing it as well.
“I would love folks to hear that sharing resources is important, and finding a way to tell people that you love them with whatever your gifts are is really important. And not only for your community, but then for your own healing as well,” she said.