Mars Siblings Baking Cookies for a Cause

Jenna and John Sutton of Mars

Five years ago, siblings Jenna and John Sutton of Mars, embarked on a mission to raise funds for the veterans at the St. John Community after reading the book, “Unbroken.”

According to Jenna, the book described the “horrific experiences” of American POW Louie Zamperini, who spent 47 days lost at sea in shark-infested waters only to be rescued by the Japanese and subsequently tortured as a prisoner of war.

After reflecting on the story, the siblings felt that veterans in our area did not receive the recognition they deserved, especially by their generation. “The book motivated John and I to raise funds for the members of the military who have sacrificed their lives for our country and future generations,” explained Jenna. It also provided a pathway to “thank and bring awareness to the veterans within the Mars community.”

Inspired by the book, the two burgeoning entrepreneurs went to work starting a fundraising endeavor, “Cookies for a Cause.” They collaborated with the Mars High School student council as well as recruited friends to help with baking, packaging and selling cookies. They even created a website to promote their cause, as well as, recognize the efforts of volunteers and blog about their experiences.

According to Jenna, the siblings mixed the ingredients for the dough early in the week. On Friday afternoon, after school, they baked, and packaged their cookies in preparation to sell them at the Mars Farmers Market on Saturday. They offered a wide variety of cookies including ginger snaps, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, coconut and macaroons. Jenna estimates that they have made more than 14,000 cookies over the past five years.

As a result, the siblings have raised over $7,000 with 100% of the proceeds going to the St. John Community veteran’s fund.

The siblings even garnered a five star Google rating for their efforts as one reviewer wrote:
“There are so many different kinds of cookies that will cater to anyone’s taste buds. The people are great to talk to and it was truly amazing to hear that all this was started by the motivation of two teenagers and their tenacious parents….”

The fundraiser also gave the siblings a “sense of purpose, gratitude and a deeper understanding of what it means to be happy,” explained Jenna.  As she described, “I originally thought I could be happy if I had certain things such as a new phone or a sporty car. Instead, I learned that happiness can be attained much more simply: by dedicating yourself to helping others, even if not asked…”

“The students (Jenna and John) who have fundraised for our veterans through Cookies for a Cause have made such a positive impact on the lives of our residents,” said Samantha Rapuk, Executive Director, St. John Community. “Not only do they provide us with donations to support programming for our veterans like our Veteran’s Day Luncheon and special entertainment, but they remind our veterans that they are still so important in the lives of everyone around them.”

John is a senior at the Mars Area Senior High and Jenna is a civil engineering student at the University of Pittsburgh. Cookies

To learn more about Cookies for a Cause and how you can help, visit