Partnership stirs up holiday cheer, supports alumni-owned business

Employees at Stir It Up Bakery making sugar cookies.
Zoe Bruyn, '17, right, founder of Stir It Up Bakery, and employee Jessie Cutter, bake sugar cookies.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

It’s a favorite Laker tradition, Holiday Brunch with Santa and Louie, sponsored by Alumni Relations and coordinated by the Young Alumni Council.

Holding this popular event in-person wasn’t a possibility this year, but organizers said they weren’t going to let COVID-19 spoil the fun. The event was transformed into a cookie kit distribution, in partnership with Stir It Up Bakery, an alumni-owned business.

“This event has sold out over the past few years and is a holiday tradition for many of our alumni and their families,” said Courtney Geurink, assistant director of Alumni Relations. “We were excited to offer it again, even though it looked a little different this year.”

Geurink said her team reached out to Stir It Up Bakery to provide the GVSU-customized cookie kits, and Alumni workers added Laker coloring pages inside each kit and a link to a recording of Santa and Louie, since they are typically the focus of the event.

Stir It Up Bakery, founded by Zoe Bruyn, ’17, is located in Hudsonville and provides meaningful employment to individuals with special needs. Bruyn said it has been a tough year for her small business.

“It’s been challenging for so many small businesses, so to be able to have this order was really good for us,” said Bruyn. “It gave a lot of hours to our team members and was a good way to end the year. I appreciate all the support Grand Valley has given to my business.”

Stir It Up Bakery employee Jessie Cutter shapes cookie dough.
Stir It Up Bakery employee Jessie Cutter shapes cookie dough.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Sugar cookies shaped like anchors.
Kendra Stanley-Mills
Zoe Bruyn, '17, founder of Stir It Up Bakery, bakes sugar cookies.
Zoe Bruyn, '17, founder of Stir It Up Bakery, bakes sugar cookies.
Kendra Stanley-Mills

Information about purchasing a $25 cookie kit was emailed to alumni, shared on social media and included in the Alumni e-newsletter. Orders came in for 100 cookie kits; each included 12 sugar cookies in four shapes (anchor, snowman, mittens, snowflake); blue, green, red and white icing; and sprinkles.

Bruyn said it was a large order for her team of six.

“Sugar cookies are very manual. We had to prep the dough, let it chill in the fridge and then shape and bake them. We also had to assemble and get all the boxes ready, and put the sprinkles in each little container,” she said.

Those 100 boxes added up to 1,200 cookies, 400 icing bags and 200 sets of sprinkles. Those who ordered a cookie kit signed up for a drive-by pick-up on the Allendale or Pew Grand Rapids Campus in early December.

Geurink said her team was happy to distribute the cookie kits in two days, support an alumni-owned business and spread cheer during these “virtual times.”

View more photos of this partnership at this Exposure site.

Louie the Laker helps distribute cookie kits.
Louie the Laker helps distribute cookie kits.
Valerie Hendrickson
Members of Alumni Relations and the Young Alumni Council distribute cookie kits.
Members of Alumni Relations and the Young Alumni Council distribute cookie kits.
Valerie Hendrickson