Anna Spelbring, 14, has had a busy spring.
In March, the Belleville teen learned she’d been selected to receive LESA’s 2021 Lutheran Student Christian Leader of the Year Award. In April, she accepted her award during a chapel presentation at her beloved elementary school, Zion Lutheran School in Belleville, and online during LESA’s annual Cooking for Kids Virtual Tribute Dinner-Auction. In May, she graduated from Zion, Belleville, where she’d moved in the third grade when her father, Rev. Chris Spelbring, became associate pastor for Zion Lutheran Church.
Now, as Anna begins her much-deserved summer vacation, this busy child of God is adding a new challenge by donating the June proceeds from Anna Bakes for World Vision, the charity baking project she started as a child, to LESA and the 35 Lutheran schools we serve.
“I don’t know why I was so driven, but the Holy Spirit was working in me,” said Anna, when she accepted her award during LESA’s online Cooking for Kids livestream event and auction. “I took a passion that God gave me and used it to be a light for others.”
Anna combined her passion for baking and serving others after attending a Christian concert that included a presentation by World Vision, a humanitarian organization that sponsors and serves children and communities around the world. “They had a speaker at the concert,” said Anna, who was 10 at the time. “I was really moved. I thought, wow, this is really cool.” After the concert, she and her sister looked through photos of children in need and decided to sponsor a little boy who lived in El Salvador. The cost was $40 a month. To pay for it, she turned to her favorite pastime.
“Baking has always been my number one favorite hobby,” said Anna.
She started by selling homemade treats to teachers, staff and congregation members at Zion Lutheran Church. As word grew, she and her mom put together a Facebook page called Anna Bakes for World Vision, where she accepts orders, shares photos and gives video updates on what she’s baking and raising each month. As her sales and batches have increased, she’s added new charities to the mix, including Zion Lutheran Church and Open Door Ministries. Anna’s specialties are snickerdoodles and coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate, but she also offers a special treat each month. For the LESA fundraiser in June, she’s planning Treat Boxes filled with “red, white and blue” snacks, like dipped rice crispy treats, chocolate-dipped pretzels, chocolate-covered Oreos, and merengue cookies.
“Anna handles all of the communications, transactions and baking all on her own,” said Principal Ananda Baron, who nominated Anna for the award. “Her kindness and servant heart have set her apart as a leader in her classroom, and that leadership extends to our entire student body and school.”
“I feel extremely blessed to have attended Zion,” said Anna, who also played basketball for Zion and flute in the school’s orchestra.
Anna’s award, which includes a $500 scholarship underwritten by the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, recognizes Lutheran elementary schools students who demonstrate courage, compassion, leadership, academic achievement and a commitment to their community.
In the final words of her acceptance speech, Anna shared a powerful call to action with her fellow Lutheran school students: “Find your passion, find what you love and use it to glorify God in all you say and do.”
For information on order deadlines, box sizes, pick-up times and suggested donation prices, look for Anna’s June video post at Anna Bakes for World Vision. And if you’d like to support LESA and Anna from afar, you can also order and donate a box to clients served by the Belleville Community Interfaith Food Pantry.
About Cooking for Kids
Cooking for Kids is LESA’s largest annual fundraising effort to support and sustain the future of Lutheran Christian education in the St. Louis Metro Area. Last year’s event raised $257,000 for need-based scholarships and educational resources such as STEM programs, professional development and curriculum guides.
Since 2004, LESA has awarded more than $6.5 million in financial assistance to families of all faiths in St. Louis and southern Illinois. To help advance that mission, the Lutheran Legacy Foundation has pledged to provide a generous match for endowment gifts and pledges made in 2020. There is also a $50,000 match for scholarship gifts raised at Cooking for Kids that is being offered by a generous donor.
About LESA & Zion Lutheran School
More than 8,200 children of all faiths attend LESA member Lutheran schools in the St. Louis Metro Area, making Lutheran schools the second-largest private school system in the Bi-State Region. A Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, LESA represents 31 elementary schools, four high schools and three related agencies. Visit www.LESAstl.org.
Zion Lutheran School is a nationally accredited PreK-8 school located in Belleville, Illinois. One of the oldest schools in the Metro East, Zion Lutheran was founded by Zion Lutheran Church in 1861 with the intention of providing a Christ-centered approach to education to nurture a child’s faith, equipping him/her to use it on a daily basis and to share it with others. Today, Zion, Belleville serves children of all faiths in Early Childhood through 8th grade. For more information, visit https://zionschoolbelleville.org, or contact Erica Stelling, Admissions & Marketing Director, at 618-234-0275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine (Kit) Auble
Director, Fund Development and Marketing
Communications & Outreach Coordinator
Lutheran Elementary School Association (LESA)
314-496-1799 – cell
Erica Stelling, Admissions & Marketing Director
Zion Lutheran School, Belleville