SWEET SUPPORT: Louisa and Marie’s Chocolate Shop sold cookies to raise funds for the Busy Bee Bakery. (Gretchen Lucina)
SWEET SUPPORT: Louisa and Marie’s Chocolate Shop sold cookies to raise funds for the Busy Bee Bakery.

Gretchen Lucina

A Downers Grove treasure: Community gathers support for local bakery

May 11, 2021

Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery, a family-owned business located in the heart of downtown Downers Grove, has gathered generations of supportive customers through their famous pastries and service to the community. Now, the Downers Grove community is giving back to the iconic bakery.

Chuck Kalousek, owner of the Busy Bee Bakery for over 24 years, was diagnosed with COVID-19 and is in need of a lung transplant due to the severity of the virus. As of April 25, Kalousek is still in a medically induced coma and on ECMO.

WRITING A MESSAGE: Kyle Kucera (11) signs an encouraging note outside of the bakery to convey his support. (Gretchen Lucina)

Family friend Melissa Mackevicius-Leonard started a GoFundMe page to raise money and awareness for the Kalousek family.

Created April 10, the fundraiser has already raised over $170,000 of the $200,000 goal with over 2,000 donors. Even more than money and donations, the family is asking for prayers.

The community continues to show their support whether they are close with the family or not. On the GoFundMe page, Fabio Teso donated and commented to help the cause. 

“My wife Caroline and I have been customers for more than 30 years. It is our favorite place in Downers Grove because of the wonderful people. You are in our thoughts and prayers,” Teso said.

Senior Libby Soelberg and her family have been longtime customers of the local bakery, where she remembers special memories that include the bakery.

“My family and I moved to Downers Grove when I was in 3rd grade. We moved in during the summer, so we were able to enjoy all of the fun activities that Downers Grove had to offer.” Soelberg said. “Our weekend routine included going to the car show on Friday night, browsing the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, and then getting a doughnut from Busy Bee’s afterward. We sat on the benches right outside the bakery to eat our doughnuts, so we were able to watch adorable dogs go into Happy Dog Barkery and wave hello to our friends in the community as they walked by!”

Soelberg donated to the GoFundMe page to help the Kalousek family and the bakery and also raised awareness about the cause.

“The bakery has given so much to my family, so I thought that donating was the least I could do. The bakery is so incredibly important to the community, so I want to do as much as I can to support the owners and their business.” Soelberg said. “I posted the GoFundMe on my Instagram story along with my favorite picture of my family eating some Busy Bee doughnuts. I wanted the GoFundMe link and the story to reach as many people as possible, so I thought that Instagram would be a great platform to use.”

EXPRESSING SUPPORT: The community made signs to put outside of Busy Bee Bakery and left markers for pedestrians to write down supportive messages for Chuck Kalousek and his family. (Gretchen Lucina)

In hopes to also raise money for the Kalousek family and the bakery, Downtown Downers Grove Louisa’s & Millie’s Chocolates began selling chocolate-covered Oreos and donated the earnings to Mackevicius-Leonard’s GoFundMe. Being across the street from Busy Bee, they wanted to support them as well 

“We made these Oreos with a suggested donation of three dollars apiece. We are donating the product and our time to decorate them so we are not keeping any of the sales.” Kitchen Manager Esther Camano said, “And then the owner communicated with the lady, a relative of theirs who is running the GoFundMe, so we are just giving them the money.”

Louisa’s and Millie’s Chocolate raised a total of $1,371 for the Kalousek family. 

“We have done a fundraiser like this before, in the past, so we just decided to do it again for Busy Bee since they have been our neighbors for a long time,” Camano said. “ I think it is like $600 at this point or more, and we donated at the end of every day.”

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