The kitchen of the Blood Donor Center at Mass General Hospital (MGH) took on the feel of a bakery in recent weeks, with dozens of cupcakes and decorations adorning the small space.
For three days in February, the Center hosted its third annual "Cupcake Tasting," with several local cupcake bakeries around Boston donating to the cause. The participating cupcake makers jumped at the opportunity to bake for a cause, for a variety of reasons.
“I can't donate blood because I have a type of anemia that doesn't allow me to give blood donations. So it's my way of being able to give back for that,” said Sandy Russo, owner of Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe in the North End.
While ‘cupcakes for blood’ may seem a catchy way to get people in the door, MGH organizers of the event say that isn't the reason they hand out cupcakes. Instead, MGH simply wants to show appreciation to donors.
"We knew that it was a great way to say thank you to our donors," said Mary Kate Callaway, a marketing specialist for the Donor Center.
Lauren Smith, a store manager at Curly Cakes, located near MGH, said the shop wanted to help to encourage donations and also to make sure that donors “have something special, to give (them) a little bit of extra energy after donating blood.” Curly Cakes serves up elaborate cupcakes such as “Triple Chocolate” and “Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup.”
“Our cupcakes are very decadent,” Smith said. “Everything sort of has a fancy spin to it.”
Local bakeries Cakeology, Panificio, Petsi Pies and Lulu's donated cupcakes for the cause for the Feb. 7 event. The hospital hosted two more events: on Feb. 21, Curly Cakes, J.P. Licks and South End Buttery provided the baked goods, and on Feb. 26, Kickass Cupcakes and Sweet Cupcakes were the makers of the rewards.
Callaway estimated that about 70 percent of the donors present on "cupcake" day were employees, mostly because it is easier to get the word out to them than to people outside the hospital. MGH is always trying to get as many donors in the doors as possible, to ensure it has “a safe and adequate supply” for patients, she said.
With winter storms in the greater Boston area, there have been more than 150 Red Cross blood drives and about 6,900 blood and platelet donations cancelled, according to the Red Cross.
The cupcake events brought in 153 donors to MGH on the first day, 105 the second, and 113 during the final event.
Russo said she would be willing to participate in similar events more often.
“If it does bring out such a great turnout, I wouldn't mind doing it more than once a year,” she said.
Sara Ross, owner of Kickass Cupcakes, said that while the lure of dessert may not sway a person’s decision to donate blood, the store was glad to participate because “cupcakes sweeten the offer.”
This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.