Tish Scheck baked 252 cakes in Mason jars to send overseas. Children in her Sunday school class decorated the labels.
Sgt. Lawrence Scheck, 28, is four months into his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. He misses his wife, Amanda, his two young daughters and the rest of his family back in the U.S. He also misses his mothers homemade cakes.
Because it takes about two weeks to ship items to overseas military personnel, the challenge for Tish Scheck was to find a way to keep the cakes fresh on their trip from her home in West Jefferson to her sons temporary home across the world. With help from her daughter-in-law, she found a way.
“Amanda is the contact person at Fort Riley (Lawrences stateside base and his familys home in Kansas) on how and what to send to troops overseas, Tish said.She found out that if you bake cakes in Mason jars and seal them while theyre hot, theyll stay fresh for up to six months.
Tish put the idea to the test, and it worked. About a month ago, fresh-baked cakes arrived at Lawrences military base.
“He called home wanting more because the guys in his unit loved them and raided his stash, Tish said.
Thats when she hatchedTreats for the Troops and launched a baking frenzy that yielded a cake-in-a-jar for each of the 250 soldiers at her sons base.
“I wanted to say ‘thank you to all of them, not just the eight or 10 guys in his unit. I found out how many guys were at the base and thought it was a doable amount. I just dont want them to think they are forgotten, Tish said.
Scheck fit 11 cakes and one tub of frosting in each flat-rate postal service box she sent to her son’s base.
Over the first two weeks of June, she baked and baked and baked: devils food cake, chocolate fudge cake, spice cake, German chocolate cake, carrot cake and six or so other varieties. When Tishs oven went on the fritz, a neighbor baked off a couple dozen cakes while repairs were made.
Assistance with the project also came from the 5- and 6-year-olds in Tishs Sunday school class at Maranatha Baptist Church in Columbus.
“They colored labels for each jar. Some of them wrote little notes. One little girl wrote, ‘USA rocks. It was so sweet. One of the boys drew a picture of his family on the label, she said.
To reduce the projects biggest expense, the jars, Tish contacted local retailers for donations and discounts. Kroger and Meijer were helpful, she said. Friends and family covered the shipping costs, nearly $300.
Tish recruited her husband, Christopher, to pack up the finished jars. Eleven cakes, one tub of frosting and a letter of appreciation went into each U.S. Postal Service flat-rate box.
On June 19, the Schecks unloaded 23 boxes at the post office. The timing should get the cakes to Lawrence and his fellow soldiers by July 4.
“I thought, ‘What better day is there to tell them all thanks? Tish said.
The project went so smoothly, the patriotic mom is already thinking about repeating the feat in time for Christmas.
Recipe for Cake-in-a-Jar
1. Make one boxed cake mix according to package instructions.
2. Fill each 16-oz. wide-mouth Mason jar half full with cake batter.
3. Put jars in oven without lids and bake according to package instructions. Meanwhile, sterilize lids in a pot of boiling water on the stovetop.
4. When the cakes are done, put the lids on immediately. The jar, contents and lid must be hot to ensure a good seal.
Yield: Each cake mix makes six jar cakes.
(For brownies, use 4-oz. or 8-oz. jars.)
Sgt. Lawrence Scheck
Sgt. Lawrence Scheck
• Raised in West Jefferson from the time he was 12 months old
• Graduated from West Jefferson High School in 2000
• Enlisted in the U.S. Army just weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001
• Now serving his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, stationed at Camp Phoenix, a 15-minute helicopter ride from Kandahar
The 266th Movement Control Team stationed at Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan (Sgt. Scheck is kneeling just below the sign in the back.)