LaSalle Bakery serves up cupcakes for a cause

LaSalle Bakery’s cupcakes not only satisfy your stomach, but your heart as well.

The celebrated E. Tremont locale for pastries, donuts, coffee and cookies, located at 3139 East Tremont Avenue, is participating in Cupcakes for a Cause, a charity that devotes proceeds from cupcake sales to CancerCare for Kids.

Cupcake-makers nationwide will participate for the same one-week period, September 20 to September 26. It’s the seventh annual Cupcakes for a Cause week, and in 2009 they raised almost $100,000.

“I received an email about this organization, read up on it, did some research, and it sounded really wonderful and simple,” said Dominick Passafiume, owner. “I’ll donate about 30-40% of my cupcake sales to the cause.”

The cause, CancerCare for Kids, raises funds to help children that are affected by cancer, which does not always mean kids who have the illness.

“Many of the kids we help have parents with cancer, and they’re trying to understand it,” explained Mandy Kessler, a spokesperson for Cupcakes for a Cause. Kessler said the money can go towards free professional counseling, financial assistance, education and practical help for children and their families.

Started in 2004 as a charity effort only in New York City with 12 local bakeries participating, this year Cupcakes for a Cause has 700 bakeries across the country involved. Over 20 bakeries in the five boroughs will participate, but LaSalle is the only Bronx bakery.

“This sounded like a no-brainer,” said Passafiume. “It was easy and it’s going to help people.”

The baker extraordinaire said that normally cupcakes aren’t his biggest seller, but he’ll be making a special array of cupcake varieties for the week-long event to boost sales. He also received, as all participating bakeries do, a marketing kit from Cupcakes for a Cause allowing him to put a large sign in the window and a placard on the counter. Shoppers will know that a portion of cupcake proceeds go to charity, and he hopes that they’ll lend a hand with their dollars and their appetites.

Passafiume has selected his offerings:red velvet, black-and-white, carrot, devil’s food, butter cream, fudge, and lemon chiffon.

“In a normal week I only put out a tray each day,” he said, “but for this week we’ll have a large assortment, with many trays every day.”

His plan sounds right in line with what Kessler said is the whole purpose of pairing cupcake sales with charity.

“Cupcakes are the best item because our children’s program is really focused on treating the whole family,” she said. “So it’s a nice thought to imagine the whole family going out for a cupcake, and each person picking their own type. It’s a good, high-margin item for bakeries that allows them to donate a lot from the sales.”

Bakeries may choose the portion of proceeds they donate. Kessler said on average, they get 50 cents to a dollar from each cupcake sold, but there are a few mega corporations that go all out. Whole Foods, for example, donates 100% of its cupcake profits each year.

During the week, you can still help out even if you don’t like eating cupcakes. Online at, you can send a friend or loved one an e-cupcake, which contains an image and personal message. A corporate sponsor will donate a dollar per e-cupcake sent, up to $10,000 maximum, during the month of September. Last year they did it successfully, though with a different donor and for a max of $5,000. This year, they hope to get the $10,000, which means that in addition to hard sales they hope to have many people log on and send an e-cupcake.

“This is the first week where things are back to normal, because it’s back to school time,” said Passafiume.

“So I really hope to get people to notice and come in, and help out.”

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