Want to give cookies to your Valentine and give back to the community at the same time? A local nonprofit bakes up eight varieties of cookies each day.
The Casey Project started from the need one family saw in the community. Born with a congenital birth defect, Casey Torman persevered through nine major surgeries with a sense of humor and love of people. Despite her reduced ability to comprehend, Casey could read, write and solve simple math problems.
When Casey graduated from Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg in 2010 with a special diploma, her parents wanted to find something for Casey to do that would help her be a little independent.
"Casey liked cookies. She needed something to give her a purpose and a job," said Paula Van Law, associate executive director of Casey's Cookies. "Casey's Cookies is great for the participants because it's routine. They master their tasks, and they are great at mixing, scooping, cleaning and sprinkling."
The cookies are a means of independence and improve the quality of life for developmentally and physically disabled adults. The participants are paid, although volunteers help in the kitchen, too.
Currently, there are four participants, adults with developmental or physical disabilities. The nonprofit hopes to add an afternoon shift and a residential component to the project.
"The main goal is not the cookies but to train mentally and physically disabled individuals to live independently," Van Law said. "The cookies are just a fun way."
The participants work four hours each morning at stations where they mix, scoop, bake, seal, pack, ship and clean. The cookies are baked fresh each day in a commercial kitchen in Largo. Cookies are available year-round with seasonal packaging for holidays and special events.
Buy cookies online or locally: