The youth center, or YES House in Gillette has created Holy Moly Donuts. It is part of the non-profit introductory course to business. The organization works to help youth and families in crisis and provides resources to keep them together whenever possible. They offer residential and day treatment options in addition to educational opportunities, like this class.
“[We] already started in the fall of 2022, so it started [back] in September, October, and we had a therapist who had given them the donut recipe after they had done it [thought of] the idea of donuts for their introduction to business, the money 101 project, says Ryan Anderson, executive director of YES House. “We tried to get [the name] to pick up when people try to say it [the doughnuts are] Good. We say, “You gotta say, Holy Moly.” Because the donuts are so good, you'll be saying, “Holy Moly.”
Their business took off when the students also showed interest in a donut shop. An order form was created and the idea began to spread among the staff at the facility. After formally receiving the YES House board's approval of the idea, staff continued to work through the health standards necessary for the operation.
“It's fun to see kids get excited about something and passionate about things because there are a lot of reasons to find negatives[s] and things, but this has just been a really cool positive experience,” he said. “And they have [the students have] really liked it.”
Approval was also granted to upgrade the business when a $1,200 industrial donut maker was purchased. It only makes mini doughnuts, unlike the previous home maker, which could make three different sizes. The business takes in about $100/week and has raised enough money to pay back the board of the donut maker and build a reserve account. The students are tasked with focusing on different parts of the business, including the money aspect, sales and delivery.
The mini donuts resemble onion rings when they are done with the frying process. Toppings, such as sprinkles, sugar and even small slices of banana, are added after being emptied into large trays.
“The [the staff and students] get them piping hot and fresh, so it's a lot of fun. The staff enjoys getting them, Anderson says. “Sometimes they sold so many that they said, ‘Okay, we're going to start a little earlier because we might not have enough time to do all of these,' but we had some phenomenal sellers, and they, our staff, were extremely supportive. “
Exposure of the program through local media has increased awareness of the popularity of the donut making operation. In addition to making them for staff and students at YES House, Anderson and teacher Paul Utzman took three of the students who had prepared a batch of several hundred mini donuts to the local retirement center. Orders for the donuts are taken on Wednesday and delivered on Friday. There were about 10 to 12 students who participated in the program last quarter and 15 this quarter.
Orders of 100 donuts or more are becoming more common, packaged in small styrofoam soup bowls. Six donuts are placed in each plastic container with a lid labeled with the contents, such as whether they have sugar, sprinkles or banana. Larger orders are placed in styrofoam containers with similar markings.
“Because the class is only a quarter and we didn't want to get into a situation where it wasn't going to build [to] something that would not be sustainable,” Anderson said. “But at this point, now, it's kind of taking on a life of its own.”
The donuts cost about eight cents each to make with a profit margin of 82 percent, figures that were calculated in the introduction to business class. There are plans to make the program an after school project and even take their business on the road in the form of a food cart or truck to service various events in the community. There is a desire to make this happen if conditions prove favorable, Utzman said.
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