- Fifteen-year-old William Cabaniss used his baking skills for the greater good.
- After successfully selling his own vanilla extract, he donated all proceeds to a food bank.
- So far, William has raised $100,000, which provided 300,000 meals to people in need!
A lot of people have recently taken up baking, but not everyone took it to the next level.
William Cabaniss, 15, used his baking skills for social good.
One fateful night in April, when the teenager was baking brownies for dessert, news about people struggling with food insecurity struck him. “It hit me that, ‘Hey, I could make this myself. I could sell this, and I could help those people in need,” he shared.
William started making and selling his very own vanilla extract, which he perfected himself.
Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow was soon born. He started selling $30 bottles of vanilla extract, the proceeds of which go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
Each bottle provides 42 meals, and so far, William has already raised $100,000 over the past year and provided 300,000 meals in total!
“No one should be hungry. No one should have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” he tells PEOPLE. “This is my way of helping to eradicate hunger in East Tennessee.”
Helping out is never new to William. When he was in kindergarten, he started to develop a servant’s heart, looking for ways to help anyone who was struggling even if it caused him his own allowance.
“I grew up in a small town, where there were a lot of kids who were on free or reduced lunch,” he shared. “I saw that as early as kindergarten. There were kids in my class who didn’t come to school with breakfast in their stomachs… I was fortunate enough to go home to food, but I couldn’t eat seeing how all these kids were suffering.”
The Good Samaritan teen has long volunteered at a soup kitchen, too, and at Second Harvest.
William wasn’t expecting anything for all the good works he’s done, but his mom, who sees all the hard work he’s giving into it, nominated him for Points of Light, a volunteer service organization founded by former President George H. W. Bush. William then received the organization’s Daily Point of Light award in February.
“I see how hard he works every day,” she told PEOPLE. “He’ll stay up super late doing homework and then doing vanilla stuff, trying to juggle it all. And he’s not proud or boastful to tell people how hard he works, so I did.”
At his young age, he was not expected to take on the problems of others. But William has a heart that cares and serves, in any way he can.
“Any difference you can make in your community is still a difference,” he said. “If it’s small or big, that could be changing someone’s life.”