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Mattison Hayes knows her way around the kitchen. The 14-year-old rising freshman at Easley High School recently took a four-week baking class at The Cook’s Station in Greenville to hone her cake decorating skills, but she has long been at home among the pots and pans. Last spring, she turned her passion into a way to fund an opportunity to serve in Haiti.

“I really love baking,” Mattison said. “It’s something I love to do with my free time.”

Last year, Mattison had the opportunity to join with a mission team from Nashville that was traveling to Haiti to train teachers and perform other forms of service. But she needed to pay her own way. 

The solution came in the form of potpies and chocolate chip cookies that Mattison made from scratch. Her parents supported her fundraiser, Southern Dozen, by buying the ingredients and posting her request for sales on Facebook.

“She made a video in our kitchen stating that she felt she needed to go to Haiti and we told her she needed to earn it,” Donna Hayes, Mattison’s mother said.

The family got in on the effort by delivering the dinner packages to friends who bought them. The potpies were ready to bake, while the cookies were ready to eat. Mattison sold 75 packages, which funded her passport and her trip to Haiti.

“It was an eye opening experience,” Mattison said. “I love doing mission work through our church – local projects like building a ramp for someone or working at the food pantry.”

In Haiti, Mattison helped with projects each day, including working on a therapy room. That effort was right in line with her future plans to work with children with special needs, either in education or therapy. 

The trip made such an impact on Mattison that she fired up the oven again this spring. This time she is making the potpies while her 12-year-old sister, Sophia, is baking the cookies. Both are planning to serve in Haiti this summer. As of late spring, they had already sold well over 100 sets of pies and cookies. Since they need to raise double the money this year, they have asked friends to buy a dinner for their own family and an extra meal to pass along to a neighbor or coworker – subtly encouraging others to serve here at home. 

Donna Hayes said Mattison’s work and her focus on service are part of their family’s goal to help care for those in need.  

“We are big believers in looking out for each other,” she said. 

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