They arrive usually at staggered times, but also sometimes at once. Yes, they are customers to this bakery of hope, hidden inside the red brick home of Cody and Glenda Moore at the end of a block on Bonham Street in south Amarillo. But more than that, they are a lifeline to those they will never know or see, some 6,400 miles away in a war-torn country.
Donations from their heart and conscience for cakes, cupcakes, sweet rolls, cookies, donuts, breads, scones, pies and muffins—67 different varieties in all—eventually funnel their way to 38-year-old Dmitry Pashchenko in Ukraine. Known as “Dima” to his friends, he’s a husband to Anya who speaks four languages and is a beacon of light in the darkness cast by the Russian invasion.
On a Monday morning in March, Tiffany Moore (no relation) pulled up in a black SUV. She picked up her online order of bread and cookies with the Ukrainian flag decorated on them.
“I think it’s great, especially with everything that’s going on,” Tiffany says. “I had my nieces over spring break, and we thought, ‘Let’s do something good.’ She does such a good thing.”
Inside was Glenda Moore in a rare moment of solitude and quiet. This former assistant school principal is the creator and owner of Kind House Ukraine Bakery, which fills a need she felt when she first traveled to Ukraine in 2013.
“Going to Ukraine, I began to understand how we live in kind of an entertainment bubble in America,” she says. “It’s beautiful—we have all this freedom, but we take it for granted. It was shocking for me how I took it for granted. I truly didn’t know how well we had it. I needed to give back to the world and not just be a consumer, but a contributor.”
Her contribution, aided by 65 volunteers, keeps growing and growing. In 2020, Moore quit her job just two weeks into the school year as assistant principal at the Woodlands Elementary School because of the demands of the bakery. That year, Kind House sent $100,000 to Ukraine. In 2021, that doubled to $200,000.
Moore, with her heart for learning and children, was a tutor at Alice Landergin Elementary until the first Russian missiles began to strike in Ukraine on February 24. She had to quit, with the well wishes of Landergin principal Bria Galt.
Kind House was covered up with orders. This was one thing those in Amarillo and outlying areas could do to respond to Russian aggression. In early 2022, Kind House was filling about 10 orders daily. When Ukraine was invaded, that exploded to 60 to 80 orders daily for two weeks.
Now it’s about 30 orders daily, half of the highest spike, but still three times more than usual. In just March, $100,000 was sent to Ukraine, which in the past, would represent nearly a year of donations. That’s a lot of Black Forest cakes and orange sweet rolls, and it’s also a lot of difference-making money going straight to Ukraine from a city almost half a world away.
“We were inundated,” Moore says, “which is a beautiful problem to have.”
Putting a ‘Kind House’ in a bakery
To paraphrase a line from a country song, Glenda Moore was pro-Ukrainian before pro-Ukrainian was cool. Nine years ago, Virginia Stubbs, Moore’s sister-in-law, was forming a team from Southwest Church of Christ to go to Ukraine as part of the nonprofit Eastern European Mission (EEM).
Stubbs, who had been to Ukraine two years earlier, urged her to go. Moore’s oldest daughter, Faith, had been there in 2012.
“Mom, you have to go,” Faith said. “This is your thing.”
For two weeks, Moore worked with youth camps near Poltava in eastern Ukraine in what was a bit like a Vacation Bible School. A good number of participating children were from nearby orphanages, where studies show about 80 percent will end up in prison, prostitution or dealing drugs by age 25.
Ukraine has only been a democracy since 1991. Nonprofits are few in a country populated by poverty. Mission work like the one Moore was in were exceptions. Perhaps more than the children, Moore developed a heart for the interpreters. They were 25 to 30 years old, who quit their full-time jobs to work the camps, including one Dmitry Pashchenko.
“They wanted their nation to get better,” she says. “They came repeatedly each summer to check on those kids and I kind of fell in love with that idea. Americans are like, ‘Oh, let’s go rescue people.’ It wasn’t like that. I just wanted to follow them in their own passion and help them with what they had already started.”
It’s easy to return from an overseas mission, and no matter the connections, eventually put these white-hot emotions on the backburner. Maybe gear up and go the next year, but in the meantime, what can anyone do?
When Moore returned to Amarillo on the first of her 13 trips to Ukraine, she wanted to help those she encountered. She shared that with her mother, Glenda Sue Hobson, who told her daughter that she was going to learn to bake.
Bake? As in cakes, cookies, rolls, pies, that kind of baking? Moore was the child who wanted to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when her mom had prepared an elaborate Mexican food dish. Cooking was not her thing.
“I was terrible at baking,” she says.
Her mom, though, was not. Baking, it was decided, was going to be the avenue for funds back to Ukraine. Hobson began coming to her daughter’s house at 4 a.m. to teach her how to make Glenda’s grandmother’s cinnamon rolls. It was a work in progress.
“One day, she said that she wasn’t coming, that she would talk me through it on the phone if I had any questions,” Moore says. “So in true education style, I learned the gradual release of teaching on how to bake cinnamon rolls.”
Moore scoured the internet on how to make cakes. The first attempts were, in her words, “miserable disasters.” But from those humble beginnings, she began to improve.
The initial modest goal was to send $100 a month to help those orphans who were transitioning to college, just a few supplies or dorm decorations as they moved on. The money would go to someone they trusted, but not directly to university students.
Hobson suggested early on that no price be put on baked goods. It should be a donation and it was up to the customer to decide the amount.
“We felt like there was some sort of responsibility you place on the donors’ shoulders when you say, ‘Donate whatever you want to give,’” Moore says. “That might be scary for a shop owner. For me, I was already stepping out in faith, sending money and hoping it was doing good. When you say ‘faith-based,’ I’m not talking about a church, but faith in one another that we want to do good in the world.”
By 2015, Moore had her baked goods available on Facebook. It was originally the Ukraine Bakery, but Pashcenko suggested the words “Kind House.” It took hold.
By 2018, Kind House Ukraine Bakery became an official nonprofit. A board was established with Sue Ann Mills as president, and Terry Kyle as both vice president and the accountant.
In five years they had come so far, and as the next few years would show, so far still to go.
Coal to heat, people to rescue
The last nine months have—in many ways—been a blur for Moore. She has had her faith and stamina tested in ways she could not have imagined. She, Cody, Faith and youngest daughter Hope have held steadfast.
In September 2021, her sister Melody Linda Moore, 53, died of bone and breast cancer. In January, her mother, who gave her daughter the idea of a fundraising bakery, died of cancer. Two deaths 118 days apart, and Glenda was caretaker for both. Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer in 2019, the reason Glenda stopped her Ukraine trips.
While in her 60s, Hobson had gone back to college, earned her teacher’s certificate and master’s degree, and taught for five years until she became too sick to continue.
“She was the shiniest penny you’ve ever seen in your life,” Moore says. “She dressed up every day to the hilt with her red lipstick and came into the kitchen to wash dishes over and over.”
Tim McMath, Glenda’s brother, was in Amarillo from Wichita Falls during the last week of his mother’s life. He looked around at all the busyness, all the volunteers, all the sweets going out. And he couldn’t help but observe: “Do you know you’ve built an empire?” he said.
“There’s a quote from It’s a Wonderful Life where George Bailey says something about how can a man with all these friends be poor?” Moore says. “That’s what I felt with what we do here. We have all these volunteers who have poured into what we do. They love it so much they even, with what happened with our family, they stepped in and took care of the customers.”
As more and more cakes and cookies went out and more and more donations came in, Kind House has long since moved its focus from buying items for those heading to their universities to more expensive and more impactful aid.
Money flows into an Amarillo National Bank account where Moore, Kyle and Dima have access. Every dime that is available for Dima is accounted for.
Several years ago, Dima began to use Kind House funds to hire men to buy coal to heat the tiny homes that populate eastern Ukraine. The first winter as a nonprofit, enough coal was purchased to heat 19 homes at a cost of $450 per home. It was 33 homes the second year, and 118 homes the next.
Funds have also gone to purchase medicine for those in an area about the size of the Texas Panhandle in a poorer part of Ukraine and to take those who lack transportation to medical appointments. Just as impactful, Dima hired people to help him.
“It’s not like he’s going to the market and buying coal,” Moore says. “He’s hiring men who go to the mine and get the coal and bring it to the little villages. It’s important to us and him to help build up the economy. So it’s much more than humanitarian aid. It’s giving people purpose and helping them to help themselves.”
Then it all changed in February. Dima and Anya, his wife, live in Kramatorsk, an eastern Ukraine city around the size of Amarillo. Kramatorsk was one of the early targets of Russian missiles. Soon, they and their children moved further west to the city of Dnipro.
Now, Dima not only helps transport journalists to eastern Ukraine, he also risks his life ferrying women and children from dangerous areas into western Ukraine and out of immediate harm’s way. Kind House donations pay for gas, other costs and a modest salary for Dima.
On Bonham Street in Amarillo, sweets and donations fuel all of that. On any given morning, the Moore home is full of volunteers. Glenda wakes up at 3 a.m. daily. By 5 a.m., six mornings a week, volunteers begin arriving. On Saturday morning especially, with as many as 20 scurrying about, the Moore home looks a bit like Santa’s workshop in mid-December.
Laura and Jimmy Fox have volunteered since October. She retired in July as a senior manager in project management after 30 years at Pantex, and uses her eye for detail to streamline spreadsheets.
“Someone who quits a professional job to make her nonprofit full-time, that catches my eye,” Laura says. “The way it’s set up, with 95 percent of the money going out, that’s a very high percentage and that spoke to me. And Glenda personally speaks to me. We just have a lot of the same thoughts about things. She’s very much into loving others. We’re heart sisters.”
Some volunteers have specific duties and others are more versatile and help where needed. Anaya, 14, lives in the neighborhood. She gets off the school bus daily, comes to the home bakery, throws her backpack inside, and sweeps and cleans the front porch, which is the Kind House welcome area.
Missy Long arrives at 5 a.m. to wash dishes. Teri Kitts is in charge of inventory, to make sure all the donated products—eggs, milk, flour and much more—are in supply. Many take turns in the “driver’s seat,” which is kind of a traffic cop to make sure orders get to the front porch when they should. It’s a long and invaluable list of help.
“They have a heart for others,” Moore says. “They want to be someone who gives back. They have this understanding—maybe this awakening I had when I first left Ukraine—realizing I take my life and freedom for granted.”
Kind House has little overhead. There is a salary for Glenda and a smaller one for Dima, but Moore says about 85 to 90 percent of all donations are funneled directly to humanitarian aid.
Moore was once in a discussion with a skeptical 89-year-old man about her operation. He had no filter, and grilled her about the money and how much actually went to Ukraine. Eventually, Moore delivered him a pie. Convinced of its cause and streamlined operation, he plunked down a $100 bill.
Because of cottage food laws, they are not allowed to ship goods, so virtually all orders come from within a short driving distance. An exception: a long-haul trucker saw Kind House online, placed an order and timed it so that when he went through Amarillo, he could pull his semi-truck onto Bonham’s residential street to pick up his sweets and drive off.
The rest of 2022 looks busy, with 30 orders a day the new normal. There is no end game to Kind House Ukraine Bakery. Unlike their cooking ingredients, there is no expiration date. In fact, the next major step will be to move into a storefront. Moore and her volunteers were baking long before the war, and they will continue long after. It’s what she does and a part of who she is.
“I know it’s said over and over again in the Bible to love one another,” she says. “Our human role, for some reason, we get away from that, and become selfish and think we should just take care of ourselves.
“But this is still so much more than I love them or that I fell in love with them. It’s more than a calling. It’s the fact that you and I are flesh and blood and we are all humans and we all belong to each other.”
As Glenda Moore spoke those words, maybe unknowingly, perhaps instinctively, her hands were crossed right above her heart. That says it all.