The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Six SMU students start “CauseCakes” to help spur social change

Signs dotted the lawn in front of Dallas Hall during the demonstration.
John Schreiber
Signs dotted the lawn in front of Dallas Hall during the demonstration.

CauseCakes are cupcakes with inspiring messages on the wrappers. (Courtesy of Daniel Poku)

Daniel Poku remembers the day he felt the calling.

He and his brother decided to take a joy ride after they both received their licenses.

Poku drove while his brother sat in the passenger seat.

Then there was a stop sign.

There stood a homeless man with a scraggly beard who asked Poku for help.

Before this day, Poku had never felt it was his duty to help the homeless because he had always been a passenger.

But on this day, Poku was in the driver’s seat and that homeless man was directly asking him.

With this eye-opening experience came CauseCakes the social movement.

CauseCakes is a cupcake business with a twist.

The cupcakes are being used to inspire others to perform random acts of kindness through messages on the cupcake wrapper.

After purchasing a cupcake, the customer will find a message on the wrapper to pay the bill of the person behind them in line at Starbucks.

Then, that customer shares their experience via a social media website designated by the CauseCakes team.

Rosyln Dirden, owner of Something So Senational bakery in Dallas, weighed in on the movement.

“Maximize man power and minimize work,” Dirden said. “I see this as something for adults and kids. Everybody loves cupcakes.”

Stephen Nelson, a member, said CauseCakes is more than just giving money.

“You as a customer get interaction with the random act of kindness. You do it yourself [and] you get to tell your story,” Nelson said.

The team wants people to know that CauseCakes is not a product, but a movement.

Poku believes that CauseCakes is all about action. CauseCakes is not about making money or achieving fame, according to Poku. The goal is to impact at least one person’s life.

For the team, success on a larger scale for CauseCakes means seeing the community, hearts and lives changed.

One of the more famous videos of the team doing a random act of kindness features the group buying groceries for a homeless man named Jerry standing on Mockingbird Lane.

“It felt so right and it was so easy,” Tyler Scott, a member of CauseCakes, said.

Poku recounted the experience of helping Jerry. He said he felt nervous about being the one to address Jerry. Poku approached as Jerry was walking away to get a meal from the dumpster.

In disbelief and confusion, Jerry never took his eyes off Poku as Poku explained how the group wanted to buy the homeless man groceries. Afterward, Poku said he felt “incredible.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in SMU, but there are real people with real needs,” Nelson said.

Kate Soja, a friend, said that CauseCakes will have success because of its mission and that she was ready to see how SMU would back the movement.

“There is something about their mission that resonates with me. The world is crying out for it. People want to be uplifted,” Soja said.

Spearheaded and created by Poku, CauseCakes has five other members. Scott is in charge of marketing programs. Nelson works in message development and outreach. Marc Feldman is in charge of the website and customer engagement. Paul Curry works on brand planning and Kyle Spencer handles product quality. They are all SMU juniors.

Poku’s inspiration for CauseCakes came from a fortune cookie. While he hates the taste of them, he was fascinated by the mystery of the fortune and could not help but to think what would happen if he incorporated this idea into something better tasting.

A common theme arose for why the six students do community service: the rewarding effect of creating change in someone else’s circumstance.

“There is no greater feeling in the world than seeing a smile on someone’s face after helping them and hearing them thank you for your kindness,” Spencer said. “I have always loved community service because it is a win-win situation. Both individuals come out happy in the end.”

The team attributed their passion for community service to their families and upbringing.

“God calls us to love one another,” Nelson said.

The team comes from various backgrounds, religions and majors that vary from Portland, Ore. to Southlake, Texas and sports management to markets and cultures. They are “dynamic” as Nelson said.

Outside of CauseCakes, the team is busy with schoolwork and managing their new project. All members also work, volunteer and spend time in activities they love like football and dancing.

“Free time is not wasted time,” Scott said.

But he called CauseCakes “joyful homework.”

“Being who you want to be takes sacrifice,” Scott said.

The team said it hopes to leave a legacy that demonstrates its members’ passion for servitude.

“People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they won’t forget how you made them feel,” Nelson said.

Poku said that if society demonstrated the same dedication in its careers into serving others, change would occur.

“CauseCakes is a movement by people that embrace this bold idea that if you had been thinking of someone else, something great could happen,” Poku said.

With donations from friends, family and strangers, the team has raised over $9,000.

Once they reach their goal amount of $12,500, they will package and sell cupcakes at The Original Cupcakery in Uptown.

CauseCake’s fundraising ends March 1.

To donate or get involved, contact a member directly or visit their CauseCakes “Like” page on Facebook.

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