Muddy Paws Cheesecake partners with STEP for 28th year

Drive accepts Target gift cards to stay safe

Muddy+Paws+Cheesecake+displays+its+holiday+toys+for+its+annual+childrens+fundraiser+Dec+6.+The+company+is+partnering+with+STEP+to+give+kids+toys+over+the+holidays.+

Abigail Prestholdt

Muddy Paws Cheesecake displays its holiday toys for its annual children’s fundraiser Dec 6. The company is partnering with STEP to give kids toys over the holidays.

Kate Schneider

During a holiday season like no other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, senior Ella Weinmann, owner Tami Cabrera’s daughter, said Muddy Paws Cheesecake had to make major changes to their annual drive with STEP to keep everyone safe.

“This is our 28th year partnering with STEP and for the last 27 years, we’ve done a toy and food drive for STEP. But because of this year’s circumstances with COVID-19, they’re not taking in those items directly so instead they’ve asked for Target gift cards. With us, if you bring in a $10 or more value gift card, you can get $12 worth of slices in exchange,” Weinmann said.

They’re not bringing in toys or food directly so this is a really big event that we partner with them. Since I was little I’ve watched the benefits of this event and how much joy and meaning it brings to families struggling to get gifts for their children”

— Ella Weinmann

Muddy Paws owner Tami Cabrera said since she relocated to St. Louis Park, it’s been important to find ways to give back to the community and she found that working with STEP helped her fulfill those goals. 

“I had just moved to the Twin Cities and I wanted to find an organization to put my energy into. I love volunteering, giving back and donating. It’s just part of who I am and what I do, my bakery, Muddy Paws Cheesecake, has always given back our profits to local organizations and it’s just part of what we do,” Cabrera said. “I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of research and STEP came through as being a great organization that did so much for so many people.”

According to Weinmann, she has been part of the drive for most of her life and has seen how much STEP directly helps families and is glad that Muddy Paws is a part of it.

“They’re not bringing in toys or food directly so this is a really big event that we partner with them. Since I was little I’ve watched the benefits of this event and how much joy and meaning it brings to families struggling to get gifts for their children,” Weinmann said. “That’s been really rewarding because gifts are typically not something that is prioritized, especially when money’s tight so I really see the benefits of the event.”

Cabrera said that to make the drive more accessible for everyone, they can donate on STEP’s website and still get the free sampling of cheesecake from Muddy Paws.

“They can do it online if they don’t want to leave their house, it goes right to STEP and then they can stop in and get their slices or they can call curbside if they’d like us to bring it out to their car,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said because of the pandemic, it has been harder to get donations than in past years but it’s still important to help out STEP and stay healthy.

“It’s been going good, it’s definitely been hard getting the word out because it’s not one big event and I’m not getting as much press as we maybe would. Everyone’s facing different circumstances, the pandemic is causing some people to want to stay home and there’s different things going on. So it’s going well but we need more people to come forward and donate,” Cabrera said.

According to junior and employee at Muddy Paws Olivia Brown, Cabrera has made protecting her employees and customers from COVID-19 a priority and there are many safety measures in place to keep those coming in to donate protected.

“We all work together in the kitchen and with customers to make everything as safe and easy as possible for everyone involved. My boss, Tami Cabrera has been very courteous and incredibly careful during this time, keeping the staff small on shifts and being very diligent with masks and so on,” Brown said.

According to Cabrera, the STEP drive goes through Nov. 9 and she hopes to raise significantly more money by then. 

“The drive goes through next Wednesday at 5 p.m. My goal is to raise $2,000 in Target gift cards and I’d say right now, we’re sitting at around $400. It’s a doable goal and we have a lot of time between now and then,” Cabrera said. 

Donations can be brought to the Muddy Paws store at 3359 Gorham Ave, St. Louis Park. More information about the drive can be found at muddypawscheescake.com.