coronaHOPE: The Cake Project

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The Cake Project

Everyone deserves a delicious tres leches cake from Manolo’s on their special day!


After news of COVID-19’s impact on local businesses started to surface, many community members began to intentionally order from their favorite local restaurants or breweries to show their support. One of those experiencing the financial struggles is local business owner and community leader Manolo Betancour, of Manolo’s Bakery in East Charlotte on 4405 Central Ave. 

Following the support and encouraging words from the community at large, folks at Manolo’s Bakery decided to pay it forward and support others in need as well. The Cake Project was born.

“We cannot change what is happening around us, but we can change how kids remember their birthday during the Pandemic! With so much going on, and all the uncertainty let’s create some happy memories and put some smiles on the faces of those in need,” says Manolo on the efforts of The Cake Project.

Originally a partnership between Manolo’s Bakery, Aldersgate Life Plan Communities, and Myers Park United Methodist Church to provide free birthday cakes to kids in the refugee and immigrant student program ourBRIDGE, the project now brings birthday cakes to kids across Mecklenburg county.

Recently, Manolo and his team were able to help a grandmother bring a piece of normality to her grandchild’s birthday. The child’s parents work in the healthcare system and they were unable to get a birthday cake for their child, explained Manolo. However, the grandmother wanted to ensure that not all was lost for her grandchild’s birthday, so she reached out to Manolo for help. Even without a birthday party, the child was still able to celebrate with cake!  The experience was a very special moment for Manolo and reinforced the importance of this project reaching across the county.

Although still facing many financial struggles, like a lot of small businesses, you can sense the assurance and passion Manolo has when he is talking about The Cake Project. Emphasizing the commitment from folks at the bakery, he mentions: 

 “There are no excuses, no matter what. All our children need a birthday cake and to feel special. Until everything gets back to normal, we will continue to do this.” 

Clergy members, teachers and community members at large are letting folks at Manolo’s Bakery know about kids in need of birthday cakes. If you know a child who is in need of one, make sure to connect with them via their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

During a time that has all of us spread out physically, hope keeps bringing community members together in different and creative ways, through acts of love and care. Families have donated directly to The Cake Project, even surprising the bakery with generous Easter cards, and you can do so as well. The easiest and quickest way to support Manolo and his team is through their GoFundMe page.

***coronaHOPE is a new digital series from Levine Museum of the New South that is highlighting stories of hope and resiliency within our community during these unprecedented times. While we all are doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19, many community members are also caring for one another in small and big ways. Please share your stories of people bringing HOPE to their communities with us. Email