A classic round green cake, decorated with a simple phrase, “Congratulations,” delivered a big message of support to a cancer patient who completed chemotherapy.

The cake, a gift delivered to a person who recently completed chemotherapy, is one of numerous desserts donated by a group of student bakers from Fox Chapel Area High School.

Laila Golla, 15, founder and director of operations of the nonprofit Cakes for Care, is on a mission of “baking” a difference, one dessert at a time.

Golla, a sophomore, created the new club after drawing inspiration from when she baked and delivered desserts with a meal drop-off at the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Her nonprofit is focused on making a difference in the lives of others through baking.

“Those that bake are so passionate about what we do and have greatened the impact of the club,” said Golla of Fox Chapel.

Cakes for Care was created in 2023 with a mission of uplifting members of the Pittsburgh community who may be less fortunate, Golla said.

“I thought about expanding the opportunity to bake for those in need (and formed the club), and it’s for other people like myself who enjoy baking,” Golla said. “I want to positively impact the community.”

Courtesy of Cakes for Care
Members of Cakes for Care bake a variety of goods, including cakes.

Golla honed her baking skills during the pandemic, often baking for guests visiting her parents, Drs. Suman and Dinakar Golla.

“I love to bake my specialty brownies,” Golla said.

All of the baked goods are donated, and club members rely on private donations to pay for their baking supplies.

Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Fox Chapel Area sophomore Laila Golla founded Cakes for Care to combine her love of baking with her desire to help others.

To date, volunteers have delivered more than 2,000 desserts to more than 42 drop-off locations, including the Women’s Center & Shelter and Hearth Transitional Housing, organizations that assist victims of domestic violence.

Other recipients include homeless shelters and hospitals.

“We will deliver to any place where there is an opportunity to collaborate and help people in need,” Golla said.

Sophomore Avonlea Teaderman joined the baking club to give back in what she described as a fun and easy way.

“I absolutely love baking anything and everything, but, if I had to choose one thing, it would be cake pops,” she said.

Teaderman is hopeful more students join the club.

She pointed out club benefits such as no mandatory meetings and flexible baking schedules.

“It’s such an honor to help out with this organization and so much fun to work with. Being able to help our community while having fun is an amazing opportunity for anyone to be a part of,” Teaderman said.

Courtesy of Cakes for Care
Cakes for Care members add special touches to their baked goods.

Additionally, Cakes for Care has raised money for the Positive Painting Project and the school district’s telethon organization, Backpack for Hunger.

Sofia Melani, the club’s vice president, is one of the group’s 25 members.

Melani, a ninth grader from Indiana Township, bakes large batches of various desserts and freezes them, bringing them to school where they’re collected as needed for distribution.

“I decided to join because I wanted something that wasn’t focused on school. I can set my own baking schedule,” said Melani, 14. “I love to bake peanut butter cookies, and those are my favorite. And it’s nice to know the baked goods will go to people who need something special and different in their life.”

She said the baking process provides a nice respite from her academics and hectic competitive ice skating schedule.

“It’s a stress reliever for me, and I like the process of it,” Melani said. “It’s fun.”

Added her mother, Tracy Melani: “She’s quite a baker and loves to make cookies that are crazy good. It makes me feel good that she’s giving back. It’s a life skill — baking.”

Baking typically is done in small groups at the home of each volunteer or in the large, communal kitchen at the Family House of Pittsburgh. The Family House offers lodging for families receiving medical care in Pittsburgh.

The biggest challenge is coordinating bakers and drop-off excursions, with most of the members juggling multiple school obligations, Golla said.

Seeing her nonprofit become a reality has been rewarding for Golla.

“I’m hopeful it will positively impact members of our community and allow bakers to use their hobby to uplift others and feel a sense of fulfillment,” she said. “I’m so passionate about the endeavor and am lucky to have the privilege to have started this organization.”

Cakes for Care is open to students in grades 9-12. To join, email Golla at golla_laila@student.fcasd.edu.

Courtesy of Cakes for Care
Cakes for Care members (from left) Avonlea Teaderman, Molly Classen and Laila Golla pose with freshly baked treats that will be donated to charitable organizations.

Joyce Hanz is a TribLive reporter covering the Alle-Kiski Valley. A native of Charleston, S.C., she graduated from the University of South Carolina. She can be reached at jhanz@triblive.com

Join the club
Any Fox Chapel Area High School student is invited to join Cakes for Care by emailing Laila Golla at golla_laila@student.fcasd.edu.
Club members
Members of Cakes for Care include Ella Bandurski, Abigail Bauman, Eliza Bonidy, Joanna Bush, Alana Calig, Ava Carey, Alison Clark, Molly Classen, Ella Ettinger, Saddie Gass, Sophia Gass, Lillian Geeting, Torrin Gniewkowski, founder Laila Golla, Milan Golla, Juliette Hirshberg, Sofia Melani, Faye Muller, Nina Polderman, Alexa Rossi, Ayla Soloman, Avonlea Teaderman, Sonora Velentovish, Mariah Venturino, Anais Wang and Ava Weiner.