Kids Who Care: These Clintonville Siblings Launched a Business as a Way to Give Back

Kaian and Anika Moses started The Bread Box to share baked goods with their community. But encouraging children to volunteer doesn’t have to be a complex endeavor.

Linda Lee Baird
Kaian and Anika Moses make dough for chocolate chip cookies.

When COVID-19 closed schools last year, parents across the country all had the same question: What do we do with our kids? Kaian and Anika Moses, who were in fifth and third grade at the time, had a similar question: What do we do with ourselves? As the initial three-week closure turned into an extended summer, the siblings started doing what many people did during those long days at home: They started baking.

Inspired by their father, Michael—who was trying his hand at making Syrian breads and baked goods for his own pandemic project—and by the everything bagels they loved to get from the coffee shop at the end of their Clintonville street, Kaian and Anika set out to make bagels. They found a recipe online, adjusted it and went on YouTube to learn more. Soon, they started selling their bagels, as well as an ever-expanding menu of baked goods, via Facebook and Instagram, adding new and even gluten-free options based on customer requests. They called their business The Bread Box.

A business run by 9- and 12-year-olds out of their parents’ kitchen is unique in itself, but the model that Kaian and Anika settled on for The Bread Box stands out even more. “We wanted to do … something to help our community, especially during the pandemic,” Anika says. The two realized that with all the baking they were already doing, they had a way to do that. “If we give food to people, that could help them,” she recalls.

They came up with a plan to double their output: Whenever they received an order, they baked twice the amount requested, donating the excess to charity organizations and events. As they came up with creative plans to scale up their business, including baking “intro boxes” for friends and family and creating a logo and business cards for brand recognition, they found themselves getting enough orders to make a lot of donations. 

Soon, The Bread Box was dropping off goodies for staff at the Moses’ pediatrician’s office and OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital. Sometimes, donations led to new business: a delivery for the Clinton Elementary School Teacher Appreciation Week breakfast brought an invitation to bake a wedding brunch for one of the teacher’s adult children. 

Further, Kaian and Anika’s flexible pricing meant they never had to turn anyone down. “There’s no set price,” Kaian says. Instead, customers decide what they want to pay, and even if they can’t pay, The Bread Box is still happy to serve them. “We’ve even had donations where, it’s really cool, they gave us a big bag of flour” in lieu of payment, he adds. The goods they made with that bag went right back into the community. 

Giving Back

One of The Bread Box’s nonprofit partners is the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resource Center. Aly Hartung, who is a volunteer coordinator at the CRC, worked with Kaian and Anika to facilitate large donations of baked goods to CRC clients.

“The Bread Box chose to donate their homemade treats to those who may be otherwise missing out on fresh fare,” Hartung writes in an email. “Their initial donation was to our Senior Breakfast Club clients, several of whom are still home-bound due to COVID restrictions or simply don’t get out to the grocery store due to transportation or medical issues.” 

Bagels and chocolate chip cookies from The Bread Box

A second donation in August provided cookies to older adults in Franklin County receiving “necessity bags” from the CRC. The partnership has been so successful, Kaian and Anika plan to continue making donations every quarter. “We received several phone calls thanking The Bread Box for thinking of them and providing such a thoughtful addition to their monthly delivery,” Hartung says. 

Getting Involved 

While starting a business to benefit the community is a huge undertaking, Kaian and Anika’s mom, Aafreen, says that a lack of meaningful volunteer opportunities for kids factored into their decision. “We had looked into doing things together as a family for volunteer work and service hours, but because Kai and Anika are so much younger than the minimum age requirement, we actually had a hard time finding resources that would allow them,” she explains. 

Michael (top left) and Aafreen Moses (top right) with their children, Anika, 9, and Kaian, 12

Brandy Jemczura, a former teacher and licensed social worker, had a similar revelation years ago when searching for service projects that she could participate in with her young children. She founded the nonprofit Seeds of Caring in 2016 to provide structured opportunities for kids to volunteer in age-appropriate ways so they can learn the value of giving back to the community. “We have an incredible window of opportunity with kids—while they’re still forming their attitudes about the world and behaviors toward others—to build kindness and empathy, both of which are learned skills that must be practiced,” she says via email.

Even if your schedule doesn’t allow for the level of commitment that a business like The Bread Box requires, there are still plenty of ways to encourage kids to give back. Ginny Kington, an Atlanta-based psychologist who completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio State University, says even small projects can make a difference. “It isn’t necessary to have your children volunteering for hours at a time or every weekend. You could just spend one hour going through their toys with them and having them pick out what they want to donate to someone in need. Or you could spend one hour helping out at a food bank or community garden,” she says via email. 

No matter the approach, Anika says community service is worth it. “We donated to Riverside hospital. Just that in general makes me [feel] really important and special. … And it makes me feel like we kind of made a difference in some of our community.” 

Learn more about The Bread Box on Facebook and Instagram at Thebreadbox614.

This story is from the Fall 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.