Faith & Service
Sr. Barbara Mullen Mission & Ministry Fund

Three generations of Mayfield students bake up a sweet surprise for Huntington Hospital

The idea was a simple one, small in scope. At least in the beginning. Virginia Schlueter Jones '64, was thinking about her sister who is a physician at a Kaiser clinic. It was over the winter holidays, during a devastating COVID-19 surge. Virginia recalled reading about how everyone in the medical profession was “so overworked and understaffed.” The Kaiser clinic had about 35 people and she wondered what kind of small gesture she might be able to offer them. “Cookies,” was her very first thought. “It was just a nice idea,” says Virginia. “A way of saying thank you that seemed easy."
Virginia laughs when she utters the word “easy” though, because of how complicated the project would later become. Her sister appreciated the gesture but demurred, saying that her clinic had enough sweets to go around. However, there were plenty of places that really could use that goodwill. That was when Virginia set her sights on something bigger. Much bigger. What about Huntington Hospital? Members of her family had worked there too. And during the pandemic, this hospital had been providing invaluable services for so long. What would it take to get everyone in the hospital some kind of sweet treat—to bake cookies for everyone
Perhaps the funniest element of even the earliest part of this undertaking was that Virginia has never been much of a baker. “I don’t bake!” she admits. In her family, she explains it is her granddaughter who possesses that skill, “Grace makes the cookies...” 
This was when Virginia started to involve her daughter Alison Jones Gamble '87 (a current Board member), in addition to her granddaughter Grace Gamble '24. Alison’s husband, who is the COO of the Hospital Association of Southern California, could help initiate contact with the right person at Huntington Hospital for this endeavor. Virginia reached out to Grace and Mayfield’s Director of Community Service, Carol Fitzsimmons, knowing the involvement from the Mayfield community could be make-or-break for this idea. Virginia also reached out to her fellow members of the Christ Child Society of Pasadena because she knew “those ladies are so generous and are always willing to help.”
At this point, Virginia was thinking of giving a small bag of cookies to every staff member at the hospital—maybe 6 per bag? When Virginia finally connected with Stacy Miller, Director of Volunteer Services at Huntington, she learned there could be 1900 people at the Hospital on any given day. 6 cookies per person meant 11,400 cookies to bake. Virginia, Alison and Grace had their work cut out for them.
Grace, a current Mayfield sophomore, found dozens of people on campus—students, faculty and staff— eager to participate. She set up a Google spreadsheet. She brought bags to fill, heart-shaped candies to include inside the bags and labels for the outside. Grace was amazed how many people volunteered, explaining, “There were some speed bumps along the way, but it came together really fast!”
With an army of student-bakers and volunteers from Christ Child Society, Virginia went to find a few more participants. Volunteers from Villa Gardens Retirement Community, Diggers Garden Club, St. Phillips Church and a few neighbors, her husband’s secretary and her own hairdresser volunteered to make cookies as well. Everyone did a small part of the massive undertaking. As for the three generations of Mayfielders? Virginia Jones, Alison Gamble and Grace Gamble all decided to make Grace’s favorite cookie: a classic chocolate chip.
The real marvel of the undertaking really was the enthusiasm of the participants. Mayfield’s Director of Community Service leapt into action, coordinating much of the operational elements. Everyone from inside and outside the school was allowed to meet on the Mayfield campus on the morning of Wednesday, February 16. Stacy Miller at Huntington had gotten the numbers of the people in every department, and Mayfield students would label every box, so that the sweets would arrive at their intended destinations. And between 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. that Wednesday, Mayfield students, alums and members of the Christ Child society received and boxed every donation, putting together an impressive assembly line of gratitude.
It took one large van and three SUVs to pack up all of the donations and at midday Virginia Jones and Grace Gamble arrived at the hospital to share the love. Another student,  Kara Garikian '23, joined the group because she volunteers in the hospital on the neuro-stroke unit.
When they arrived at the hospital, Stacy Miller was there to meet them, in addition to a member of the hospital communication team, Cassandra Coleman, who is also Mayfield alum (Class of 2003). “I love being just a stone-throw away from my old high school!” she says. But on a much more serious note, Cassandra was hugely grateful for a gesture like this because in her years working in the hospital, she had never imagined such a fractious moment, and this had been taking a toll. Stacy praised the donation saying it was much needed, and “so good for morale.” And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, Cassandra explained, “It’s Employee Gratitude Week!” 
The vast majority of boxes were wheeled into the hospital by volunteers, to be distributed in an orderly fashion. However—following Huntington’s screening procedures—Mayfield students Grace and Kara were allowed into the hospital for a few minutes as well, so Kara could deliver to the neuro unit she works at every Tuesday. She talked about the joy of being able to deliver to her own nurses’ station. “A lot of the nurses are very tired and they work really hard,” says Kara, “so I'm happy to give them a little pick-me-up.”
Cornelia Connelly once prayed: “Give me, O Lord, a love full of action.” During this pandemic, the charismsa of Cornelia has never been so relevant and needed. And her lessons inspiring love, action, joy, kindness, and ingenuity are still motivating not only the schools she founded, but the generations of students and graduates who continue to live by those principles.
Alison Gamble says that baking cookies was “so simple, per person.” But it’s what happens when all those small personal contributions get added together. Obviously, Virginia Jones wanted everyone in the hospital to enjoy their small bag of treats. But more importantly, she hopes the recipients will feel the appreciation and gratitude from so many in the community because behind those thousands of cookies, there were hundreds of hands—all baking for this labor of love.
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Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 28 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.