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Minneapolis Baker Gives Away Sweet Potato Pies To Her Grieving Community

As the year goes on, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed.

Not only does the United States remain the hardest hit nation in the COVID-19 pandemic, but long-standing issues with systemic racism and police brutality throughout the country came to a boiling point with the deaths of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor and 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of police.

But if there's any good that can come from dire times such as these, it's in the actions of those risking arrest, serious bodily harm, and even death to protest the current realities of the American criminal justice system and bring about a positive change.

And as the example of a civic-minded baker in Minneapolis illustrates, we can also see this good in the actions of those who offer loving support to them.

Since 2014, 69-year-old Rose McGee has baked what she calls "comfort pies" to help communities heal after tragedy.

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Unfortunately, she faced as large of a wound to heal as she does now because the idea came to her after she heard the news about the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

As she told HuffPost, "I sat in my living room, watching the news, and I saw the hopelessness on the faces of the people there. I knew that I needed to do something. Right then, the Lord spoke to me: ‘Get up and bake some pies and take them down there.’"

For her, the choice of dessert to offer comfort to a wounded community was obvious: sweet potato pies.

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As McGee said, "This is the sacred dessert of Black culture. They link us to our history, they soothe our souls and they renew us for the work ahead."

After baking 30 pies and driving 500 miles to Ferguson, she would then learn how best to go about what would become her calling.

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As she said, "I realized that I needed to begin by asking permission to give this gift. And then I needed to be ready for the sometimes very deep emotions that were shared with me. Time after time, I would hear that this pie had arrived in someone’s life at exactly the right time, when it was most needed."

Upon her return to Minneapolis, McGee floated the idea of an annual event where she and other volunteers would give out pies after a community-wide gathering on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

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As HuffPost reported, the sixth of these events took place in January and saw volunteers bake 91 pies, which represented each year that has elapsed since King's birth.

At these gatherings, the community then decides who the pies will be distributed to. Past recipients have included first responders, health care workers, youth groups, community leaders, and racial justice organizations.

A week after Floyd's death, McGee baked a special batch alongside fellow volunteer Andrena Seawood and her son Matthew.

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A few hours after McGee pulled her last pie out of the oven, McGee and her fellow volunteers drove to the Minneapolis memorial site where Floyd was killed. It is now adorned with street art and tokens of tribute to Floyd's memory.

There, they handed out their pies to mourners and protesters. With them was enclosed a poem written by McGee's daughter, which contained the passage, "Remember to eat, pray and love as you partake in making a difference, for there is much to be proud of."

McGee said the gesture seemed to have a positive effect, saying, "I have never handed a pie to someone without getting a smile back."

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This impression was confirmed by another volunteer named Hannah Carney, who told HuffPost, "Rose serves as a beacon of hope for those in pain and her pies are an expression of love. They bring power to those who accept them. The entire experience connects and strengthens our community."

h/t: HuffPost

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