Jen Stanley has baked and delivered 3,324 cupcakes in just the past seven days. You might say she’s on a mission.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of millions, and for Stanley, a Dracut mother, cancer survivor, and small business owner, it’s led to a marathon of baking as she tries to both keep her home business alive, and give back to front-line hospital workers to whom she owes her life.
“Lowell General (Hospital) has saved my life a couple of times now,” Stanley said this week. “I’m a breast cancer survivor and they’ve done multiple surgeries on me.”
Stanley is also the owner of Amanda Panda Party, which she runs out of the Dracut home she shares with her husband, Greg, 17-year-old twins Amanda and Nicholas, and 16-year-old Michael. Stanley has operated Amanda Panda Party — named after her daughter — out of her Second Street home for about nine years.
But like elsewhere across the nation and world, social distancing has hit the business hard.
“Because of the coronavirus I’ve been slow,” Stanley said. “So I have supplies and I didn’t want it to go to waste.”
Stanley’s husband Greg said the family often provides cupcakes if the Lowell General Hospital Cancer Center holds events, and each year during the Dracut Scholarship Foundation Telethon, because they believe in giving back to the community.
That’s why Stanley decided to donate cupcakes to Lowell General Hospital staff as they work to keep up with the spreading pandemic. She reached out to a frequent customer who’s a nurse there to get in touch with the hospital and set up a way to donate.
“We contacted the hospital and didn’t just show up with food randomly,” Greg Stanley said.
But then as the family considered how to keep the business going through social distancing, they came up with the idea of combining both business and charity.
“We were trying to not only drum up business, but also take that business and give back to the community, so we decided every time we sold (a dozen) we would give (a dozen),” Greg Stanley said.
The response has been massive, leading Jen to bake 277 dozen cupcakes since she began the effort a week ago Thursday.
“We’ve been tremendously surprised and kind of overwhelmed a little bit by it,” Greg Stanley said while delivering another few more dozen to the hospital Wednesday. “The compassion that everybody has to help our first responders. We’re getting a lot of people calling and saying, ‘hey we’ll donate both, please send both dozen over.’”
Stanley said customers have now also ordered cupcakes for Dracut Police, the Tewksbury State Hospital, and others.
And meanwhile, as mom bakes, Amanda Stanley has been keeping busy sewing masks for hospital staff as well. Jen Stanley said she could never do so much baking if not for the help of her husband and kids.
Jennifer Hanson, Lowell General Hospital’s director of philanthropy, said all the gestures community members have made, from sending cupcakes to sewing masks and creating protective equipment, have helped keep those at the hospital going.
“The outpourings of donations and support have been inspiring,” Hanson said. “Our team is working around the clock to care for and protect our patients through this emergency, and every day our community reminds us that we are all in this together.”
To order cupcakes or learn more about Stanley’s business, visit: www.AmandaPandaParty.com.