Gumbo for a Good Cause in Oakland

Posted on Christina Mitchell’s Facebook Page for her food blog, East Bay Dish, are pictures of all the breathtaking waterside runs she has been taking in preparation for the Oakland Running Festival half-marathon. Below each picture are comments from her readers, cheering her on.

For Christina, the run is about connecting different interests and passions: food, running, and making a positive contribution to youth. Given this focus on integrating her passions, it is not surprising that Christina’s fundraising strategy as a member of Team Ella Baker Center revolves around food.

Fundraising with Cupcakes and Gumbo

While professionally a teacher, Christina is a food writer and avid foodie on the side, and at the end of January she taught a donation based cupcake baking class to raise money for the team. The idea came from her friend Sophia Chang, who owns Kitchener Oakland and offered her a kitchen free of charge.

Christina leapt at the opportunity. "It was a good experience to get out of my comfort zone and try something new,” she says. While she has taken tons of baking classes and has a large following as a food writer, she had never taught a class before.

Twenty-five people attended, bringing in $500 to Christina, with $250 to spare after the cost of ingredients. She also had food and wine donated for participants to enjoy throughout the day. “It was really light-hearted and fun,” she explains. “We laughed a lot and everyone would scream if something dropped on the floor.”

Spurred on by the success of the class and her love of good food, Christina is doubling down and using the money raised from the baking class to buy ingredients for a gumbo sale this coming Sunday, March 3, from 11am to 4pm at the Commonwealth Cafe and Pub in Oakland. All proceeds will go to Team Ella Baker Center.

Striving for a New Personal Best

While teaching a class was a new experience for Christina, she is also pushing her boundaries through running. This run for Team Ella Baker Center will be her second half marathon—the first she ran for the American Heart Association in Sacramento. “Before that I had never run more than a mile in my life,” she asserts. But she was leaving her twenties behind and says, “I decided, I’m going to run into thirty. It was a powerful experience.”

This time around, Christina wanted to run for a local organization.  She also has a new goal:  not only to finish, but to meet a certain time. To accomplish this goal she has been training with fellow Team Ella Baker Center members under the lead of Rachel Marcus.

“Running is getting me in shape and I feel stronger physically and mentally,” she says.

An added benefit to this growth is the high Christina gets from the runs. “We meet in a different city every week and run outside,” she explains. “One time we ran across the Golden Gate Bridge. And we’re running with people who want to help out and make a difference. So not only is the scenery beautiful but the people are beautiful, too.”

Join Us for Gumbo Sunday, March 3rd

Christina herself cares about making a difference in the lives of youth and admires the civil rights work of none other than Ms. Ella Jo Baker. She teaches African American history and her students recently studied Ms. Baker.

“She was so awesome, but not really well known,” says Christina. “I tell my students, this is who I am running for.”

With Christina’s innovative fundraising strategies that combine all her passions, she will certainly make a contribution to helping us carry on Ella’s legacy. 

Inspired by Christina’s passion?  Love good food?  Want to help the Ella Baker Center in our work?  Attend Christina’s gumbo sale this coming Sunday!  We’ll see you there.

Where to get your gumbo