Rising Star Victoria Walden — Leading with a servant heart
“I have always wanted to help out in my community — to make a difference,” says Jasper Middle School eighth grader Victoria “Tori” Walden. And she isn’t waiting until she is an adult to start working toward that goal.
Nearly two years ago, she decided she wanted to raise money for the No Child Hungry project, a national program with sponsoring businesses that will match individual donations. Thinking about how she could raise money, she says the idea of baking just “fell into my lap,”
“Everyone likes cupcakes, and I like to bake, so I tried it out,” she says. “I made my first dozen and sold them. People liked them and wanted more, and my business, Tori’s Cupcakes, was born and continues to grow. The advertising was mostly by word-of-mouth. My mom posted photos on Facebook, and my dad took cupcakes to work and sold them. Soon I was getting orders. I was able to donate $150 to the No Child Hungry project, and with the matching funds, it was a $300 donation.”
An honor student, Walden is also very involved in her school, church and community. As a member of the Jasper Middle School Student Council, she has worked to make the council’s annual food drive for the Marion County Community Food Bank a success. While working on this project, Walden became interested in how the food bank works and wanted to do more to help the hungry.
“I set a goal of $300 that I wanted to donate to the local food bank and began baking and selling cupcakes anywhere I could,” she says. “I have no clue exactly how many cupcakes I sold to get to $300, but I went through about 1,000 cupcake liners, so it was a LOT of cupcakes. It also took a lot of time. I can only bake two to four dozen at once. Also, I make a variety of flavors — including carrot cake, German chocolate, Reese’s Cup, maple bacon and red velvet — so that takes time, too. I use mixes for some of the flavors; others I make from scratch.”
Although most of her business is from special orders, she has also prepared large numbers to sell at the Children’s Fair in Chattanooga and a local Christmas Bazaar and for a couple of weddings.
“Since it is a business, I divide up the proceeds from my sales. I pay for my ingredients with part of the money, save part of it for my college fund and the rest I donate. I did reach my goal, and in November — one of the busiest times for the food bank — I was able to make a $300 donation.”
“Victoria has a servant heart and spirit,” said Marion County Community Food Bank volunteer and School Board member Linda Hooper. “She is a top-notch kid. She made a $300 donation to the food bank from the proceeds of her cupcake business. How many young people would do that? How many adults, for that matter? She is a shining example of what I call ‘the power of one.’ There is just no telling what one hardworking person with a servant heart can do when she puts her mind to it. Victoria puts people first.”
“I wish there were more young people like Victoria. She is an awesome student,” said Sandra Webb, retired Army master sergeant and volunteer at both the Marion County Community Food Bank and the local VFW Post where Victoria also volunteers. “She is such a hard worker, volunteering for almost every project the VFW and Auxiliary conduct.”
An active 4-H Club member, Walden taught a class on cupcake decorating last summer for the students at the Jasper Elementary School Summer Day Camp as part of her 4-H Food Science and Technology project and hopes to do so again this summer.
Walden’s future plans are to become a neonatal nurse. Born to Keith and Kristy Walden of Jasper at only 28 weeks and weighing only 1 pound, 15 ounces, she spent the first couple of months of her life in a neonatal unit. Victoria wants to give other babies and parents the care and support she and her parents received.
SVEC is proud to honor this young leader and community servant.