Thirteen-year-old Michael Platt loves to bake. He loves to bake so much, in fact, that he started his own bakery business out of his parents’ house. But it’s not your average bakeshop — although it does sell the requisite cupcakes, cookies and pastries — because Platt is also feeding homeless people, one cupcake at a time.
According to his website, Platt began baking when he was 9, and he began selling his cupcakes a couple years later. Michaels Desserts is based in the kitchen of his mom and dad’s home in his hometown of Bowie, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. For every cupcake, cookie or cake that the business sells, he donates another to folks who are homeless and hungry so as to brighten their day. (This one-for-one business model is borrowed from TOMS, which donates one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair sold.)
Additionally, Platt passes out treats twice a month at places like domestic violence shelters, transitional housing and local D.C. parks where homeless people tend to congregate and live.
Treats currently for sale range in price between $3 and $3.75 and includes a vegan option. He also sells creative cupcakes such as the Freedom Fighter Cupcake, a carrot halwa (a sweet sesame candy popular in the Middle East) stuffed spiced treat named in honor of the Pakistani girls education activist Malala Yousafszai.
Platt is passionate about social justice, and has been since he was young; he used to love the “I Have a Dream” poster hanging in his grandparent’s house. So he turned that passion into treats honoring his favorite visionaries.
As The Washington Post explains, he honored poet and author Maya Angelou in June with a banana pudding cupcake, October is a mint chocolate chip cupcake for Harriet Tubman (whose nickname was “Minty”), and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored with a sweet potato-filled cupcake in January and February.
Although baking to fill orders for his business keeps him busy, Platt also raises money for nonprofits as well. Recently, he taught a baking class at a Williams-Sonoma store in Annapolis, Maryland to raise money for No Kid Hungry, a charity that seeks to end food insecurity.
Sometimes, he told the Post, he gets tired of baking all the time. But then he remembers the people he can help, including young kids like himself.
“I always wanted to have a purpose for what I do,” Platt told Post. “It’s all about helping people — not just having a purpose for yourself, but thinking about, ‘How does this touch other things?'”
You can make an order for Michaels Desserts through his website.