Pink Bun Day and Cyclone Gabrielle
By Holly Shan
Tuesday, February 14, being Valentine’s Day is set aside for people to show their love to some of those closest to them. The recent Valentine’s Day was also Pink Bun and Cupcake Day for some of the baking outlets in Mercury Bay. Leeanne and Sharlee Bates, the owners of the Bay Bakery in Monk Street, Whitianga Bakery, held a special sale to help raise money for Project Mammogram Whitianga, a project initiated by Whitianga Lions Club and Mercury Bay Lions Club to raise $350,000 to buy a mammogram machine to be installed locally for local access to breast cancer detection and prevention.
With Cyclone Gabrielle hitting the area, Leeanne and Sharlee, decided they also wanted to make a donation from their baking to the local fire station. “Everyone from the Fire Brigade had been coming in for coffees, even those who came from Wellington, so we wanted to do our part to help and say thank you to them for doing that,” Sharlee said. They didn’t tell others their idea, but somebody else in the community coincidentally had the same idea. Sian Charlize left a message on Sharlee’s phone that same day, ordering $50 of baked goods, a mixture of warm pies and quiches, along with sandwiches to go to the volunteers at the fire station.
On Valentine's Day morning, Sian went to the bakery to meet Sharlee, and after a chat, they soon came to an agreement. Sian told The Informer, “I told her that, as a business, the bakery still needs to make money, and they are busy and short-staffed. So I will pay and deliver and they can prepare all the goodies.” But Leeanne and Sharlee insisted Bay Bakery would cover all expenses. “This is because we had already thought about that; but having someone delivering is helpful because we are too busy to do that in the middle of the day.”
When Sian and her daughter Mckenzie brought the baking to the fire station, the firefighters were all away. They waited wait for them to return, but it wasn’t long before they hurried away agin to help with the cyclone damage, but not before they were nourished by the generous and delicious baking.” Sian has always thought that what the firefighters do is amazing. “They are all volunteers and contribute to the community without pay,” she said. “More importantly, it’s not only one person who’s a firefighter, but the whole family is involved – wife or husband, children and even grandchildren.” Sian said. “When I looked out from my window last night and the night before, I wouldn’t want to go out. I was worried about my family and my floating garage; but the fire fighters were not at home. They looked after our town.”
Sian moved to Whitianga from Auckland eight years ago. “I love Whitianga, and I’m proud to live here. It doesn’t mean Auckland is not good, but a smaller town, where everyone focuses, not just on themselves or their family, but also cares about everyone else is what appeals to me.” Sian has always liked helping the community with her 9-year-old daughter, McKenzie. Just the day after, they came together to join the community volunteers in cleaning up Buffalo beach. “I try to make her a big part of it, to help her become a caring and helpful person.”
Sian told The Informer that Bay Bakery should be applauded for what they’re doing. “It just means that when people want to go to a bakery, they can go to these guys who support our community. Also, hopefully, other people in the community, when they know what we have done, would like to do the same or something similar to express their support and thanks.”
As told by Sharlee, the Fire Brigade later called Bay Bakery and expressed their gratitude. As only a few cafés were able to opened in those two stormy days, Bay Bakery was delighted to be able to make some contribution to the first response teams, just like many other businesses in the town.
Caption: Sian Charlize with Leeanne and Sharlee Bates owners of the Bay Bakery which supplied food to the volunteers during the cyclone response.