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Cocoa for a Cause: Brothers surpass fundraising goal for refugees


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REXBURG — A trio of brothers successfully surpassed their fundraising goal to help refugees due to the outpouring of support from eastern Idahoans.

RELATED: Cocoa for a Cause: Three young brothers from Washington bring tradition to Idaho

Cocoa for a Cause is a fundraising baked goods stand that was started six years ago in Snohomish, Washington as a philanthropic effort by now 13-year-old Benjamin Mahelona. Benjamin’s family moved to Rexburg about three months ago. He wanted to start the stand again in his new community.

Benjamin and his two brothers Caleb, 9, and Desmond, 5, along with the help of his mother, sold hot chocolate, brownies, cookies, muffins and other baked goods. This year, the brothers agreed to raise money and donate it to refugees through the International Rescue Committee. The money will help buy school supplies, blankets, toolkits and emergency food.

On Tuesday, the two-and-a-half-hour event raised almost $400 more than expected. Benjamin had a goal of raising $538. Instead, he raised $925.99 with his brothers.

“I really want to thank them (the people who donated) because it’s their donation that’s helping the refugees and they are the ones that are really helping the cause. I’m just directing it and without them, I don’t think we would have ever made the goal,” Benjamin said.

Twyla Mahelona, Benjamin’s mother, told they sold out of a lot of their baked goods. People from as far as Boise reached out to donate money.

“Every year, there seems to be one extra special thing that happens that makes it amazing. This is the first time we had people reach out from more than just the community and have it kind of spread out, that was really neat,” said Twyla. “I was just blown away by people caring about my boys being out there and caring about the cause. (There’s) a lot of thoughtful people.”

Desmond with his Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Goebel at Cocoa for a Cause | Courtesy: Twyla Mahelona
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Benjamin and Caleb at Cocoa for a Cause | Courtesy: Twyla Mahelona