St. John Bosco School

Bella Gump is flanked by, from left, Julie Carlberg, Maggie's Place chief program officer; Laura Macgruder, CEO of Maggie's Place; and her grandfather Tim Gump, a member of the Mesa Hohokams.

 

It may not be unusual for 12-year-old girls to know how to bake a cake, but that’s not why Bella Gump is special.

For about a year now, the Ahwatukee girl has used her cakes to make women in need feel special.

A student at St. John Bosco School in Ahwatukee, Bella volunteers at the Elizabeth House in Tempe, one of a string of houses operated by the nonprofit Maggie’s Place.

Maggie’s Place runs about a half-dozen houses in neighborhoods scattered across the Valley to provide pregnant single women a nurturing and stable home and nutritious food. Full-time and part-time volunteers helping them not only become good mothers but productive members of the community as well by providing counseling and other help.

As part of her outreach, Bella for more than a year has baked a cake every month to help celebrate the birthday of one of its residents or full-time live-in volunteers – a tiny gesture, perhaps, but one that helps remind them that they are appreciated.

In part, she was inspired by her brother Rocco, a student at Seton Catholic Preparatory who has been bringing dinners to residents the past three years.

Recently, Bella’s kindness also produced an unintended consequence that further helped Maggie’s Place continue the mission that its five founders began in 1999.

Her grandfather Tim Gump heard Bella talk about the first cake she delivered to a young mother at Elizabeth House.

“The mother told her it was the first birthday cake she’d ever had,” said Bella’s mom, Jena. “Hearing this tugged at his heart.”

Turns out Grandpa has a big heart, too.

He’s a member of the Mesa Hohokams, which for decades has raised money for countless charities, mainly by providing support for fans at spring baseball games at Mesa’s two stadiums.

“He knew he needed to get the Mesa Hohokams involved,” Jena said. “Truly moved by the wonderful things Maggie’s Place does to help mothers in need, the Hohokams made a generous donation of $5,000 to be used at the Elizabeth House.”

“Bella was so excited” with the development, family friend Terri Lisi said – especially because “Maggie’s Place does wonderful work and these single moms deserve lots of support.”

There are many ways to help Maggie’s Place continue that work, from donating baby and maternity supplies to supporting it with cash donations to volunteering.

You can find out more information at maggiesplace.org.

Meanwhile, Lisi said Bella’s acts of kindness and the generosity it inspired from the Hohokams make for “a great start to the new school year.”

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