Highland Park teen bakes for cause
Highland Park High School Junior Mishika Narula creates cake pops for charity. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
NAME: Mishika Narula
HOMETOWN: Highland Park
AVOCATION: Social entrepreneur, NSSRA fund-raiser
BUSINESS: www.powerofpops.com; (847) 926-0025
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “I feel very blessed to live in the United States where people with disabilities are treated with honor and dignity.’’
Updated: November 7, 2012 11:12AM
HIGHLAND PARK — It is second nature for 16-year-old Mishika Narula to raise money for those less fortunate.
Through her Power of Pops business, the Highland Park High School junior has raised more than $25,000 for charity by baking and selling cake pops, with the bulk of the money going to help the North Suburban Special Recreation Association.
As a “social entrepreneur,” Narula said she believes that tackling social issues by making a difference should be a big part of everyone’s life.
“Community service in general has always been part of our religion,” said Narula, a Sikh who has family in India where she travels every year to do volunteer work.
With plans to study business law in college, Narula said she wants to “fight for people who are less fortunate.”
For now, she spends hours in her kitchen baking up cakes — red velvet, chocolate, yellow and marble — and turning them into cake pops dipped in chocolate. It usually takes four hours to make one batch, she said, with each batch making 35 to 40 pops.
Her passion for fundraising began with being part of her high school’s annual charity drive. She decided she did not want to stop there.
“Helping Humanity One Cake Pop at a Time” is the slogan for her business she started in March of last year. Her website, www.powerofpops.com, gives information on how to buy her pops and background on her venture.
People just like cake pops, Narula said, so it seemed like the best way for her to raise money.
“I just thought of cake pops. The day I started my business — the very next day Starbucks started selling them,” she said, adding that was just a coincidence.
So far, she’s sold more than 2,000 pops. She charges $2 each, and all profits go to charity.
Her focus on raising money for children with special needs stems from her cousin with special needs who lived in India and who now is deceased.
In India, she said, “there is no respect for people with disabilities.”
“I tried thinking of something to do in India as well.”
But the two weeks a year she is there is not enough time, she said. With her grandmother on the board of Plan International, Narula spends her time in India volunteering.
As for her Power of Pops business, Narula plans to keep it going even while in college and working.
“When I go off to college, if I get too busy, I will pass this off to my little sister,” she said, adding that her 12-year-old sister Namrita already assists her in making the pops.
This level of commitment to raise money for the NSSRA is unsurpassed, said Executive Director of NSSRA Craig Culp.
“We have not had somebody, especially at this age, put forth so much time and effort,” Culp said.
Recently, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering presented Narula with a resolution for her dedication to raising money for NSSRA. The park district in Highland Park and those in other North Shore towns partner with NSSRA to offer programs for residents with special needs.
Through Power of Pops, donations have come in from Italy, France, India and other countries, Culp said.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never, ever done anything internationally,” he said. “Mishika, I think, has brought a young perspective to the way the world is going. The world is getting smaller.”
The money Narula raised went toward buying new, handicapped- accessible vehicles for NSSRA, he said.
“I am extremely impressed and encouraged and lifted up by Mishika herself and the person she is,” Culp said.