Gifts from the heart: Oak Harbor sisters cook up idea to help those from community in need

Taylor Marrs, 3, tries to decide which direction to go next while helping her older sisters put frosting on sugar cookies. - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Taylor Marrs, 3, tries to decide which direction to go next while helping her older sisters put frosting on sugar cookies.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

It was her oldest sister’s idea. And to Taylor Marrs, it was a good one.

What better way for a 3-year-old to spend time than to sit at the kitchen table with her two big sisters and spread thick slabs of frosting on dozens of sugar cookies.

Taylor was taking the job seriously, using a little extra force to apply sprinkles.

“Mom, Taylor broke the sprinkles,” 7-year-old Lauren Marrs shouted from across the table.

But the avalanche of sprinkles kept coming, nearly burying one cookie.

“That’s a lot of sprinkles!” Lauren said.

“I hope people like sprinkles,” added 11-year-old Jaden Marrs.

It was Jaden’s idea to make these cookies.

An idea that blew her father away.

She didn’t want to bake the cookies for her family. She wanted to bake them and give them to those less fortunate in the Oak Harbor community.

This is one family’s act of kindness to brighten, and sweeten, the lives of others.

The Marrs family baked and frosted 20 dozen sugar cookies, wrapped them and gave them out as gifts on Christmas Eve to those who came for a free meal at the Spin Cafe in downtown Oak Harbor.

“I just wanted to put a smile on everyone’s faces for the holidays,” said Jaden, a sixth grader at Oak Harbor Middle School.

She certainly put one on her parents’ faces.

“We were talking about Christmas at the dinner table,” Brian Marrs said, “and how some people were less fortunate and didn’t have gifts and presents and how you should feel grateful for what you have. My daughter was like, ‘Why don’t we do something for people who don’t have anything and don’t have a home? Why not make cookies for people in need?’”

Emili Marrs and her three daughters went to work over the weekend, with dad pitching in, too.

The three sisters iced the cookies Monday with help from Jaden’s friend, Makenna Ronning.

Emili Marrs said she is blessed to have three healthy daughters and proud of each of them. Jaden’s idea didn’t surprise her.

“She has a really giving heart,” Emili said.

Once the family decided to bake the cookies, Emili searched for a fitting recipient.

That’s when she learned about the Spin Cafe, a service organization that provides free meals from 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from its location at 658 S.E. Bayshore Drive.

Spin Cafe began meal service with 14 people on July 16 and now averages about 45-50 people each night, according to Vivian Rogers Decker, Spin Cafe’s founder and board president.

The organization has plans to expand its services to help those in need, and has started work on a community garden downtown, with work parties on Saturdays.

Decker works with children as the student and family support specialist for the Oak Harbor School District.

“I love the opportunity for kids to be involved and give back to the community,” she said.

Jaden Marrs’ idea was an example of just that.

“You don’t realize how many people are in need of the simple things such as food,” Emili Marrs said.

Her family helped with 20 dozen treats, topped with icing and a lot of sprinkles.

“I wanted to make people happy,” Lauren said.


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