Bianca Salerno, the 10-year-old Latina baking treats for frontline healthcare workers amid COVID-19
Salerno is one of the winners of TD Bank’s Young Heroes awards for her effort.
When the coronavirus pandemic first came to Philadelphia back in March, 10-year-old Bianca Salerno knew her and her dad would be separated for an indefinite amount of time.
Salerno’s dad is a pulmonary and critical care surgeon at Temple University Hospital. He stayed at the hospital day and night caring for patients, and to not risk bringing the virus home to his family.
“We could only ever talk over the phone,” she said.
As the cases started to pile up, she could hear the toll it took on her dad over time.
“I could hear over the phone that he was going through a lot,” said Salerno.
The struggle she heard from her dad made her want to help in any way she could.
From the time she was six years old, Salerno has always shown baking prowess. The first thing she ever baked alongside her mom was her famous Oreo cake.
Since, she’s expanded her recipe book to include everything from cake pops — a personal favorite to make — to cookies and muffins.
When looking for a way to support her dad and all the frontline healthcare workers, baking seemed like the best way to make an immediate impact.
And so, in mid-April, Salerno started putting together goodie bags of her baked treats that would then get delivered to the frontline workers at the hospital.
She couldn’t make the deliveries, but would get daily updates from her dad about people’s reactions. Their presence, while small in the grand scheme of the situation, made workers’ days across the board at Temple Hospital.
Salerno said her dad told her that some even cried at seeing the table setup welcoming them to work for the day.
“It really felt amazing to hear that,” she said.
But it wasn’t just a one-time thing. Salerno kept up a daily effort of baking for the hospital workers over the next month and a half as the virus hit its peak.
She admitted that at times she wanted to stop because the effort seemed too much. However, Salerno said she didn’t because she constantly reminded herself of the much more difficult situation the workers were going through at the hospital.
“They don’t have that option, so I was going to stop either,” she said.
Over time, Salerno created a small movement in her community of Haverford, PA and got other kids and their families in on the baking effort for the frontline healthcare workers.
In total, 20 people joined forces in the name of bringing baked goods to the hospital to uplift spirits. Salerno’s mom organized the effort through Facebook.
When a teacher in her school found out about Salerno’s efforts, she nominated her for recognition as one of TD Bank’s Young Heroes.
The annual awards recognize young people from across the country that have excelled in civic engagement, conflict resolution, diversity promotion, or school and community engagement.
The 2020 ceremony is the 20th edition of the Young Heroes Awards and will be held virtually on Sept. 12, 2020.
For Salerno, just getting nominated was an honor, but winning brought the effort to new heights. Despite the recognition, she heaped the praise on the team she created.
“This award isn’t just about me, it’s about the effort we all put in to support the healthcare workers,” she said.
As for the future, Salerno will definitely keep baking, and should COVID-19 flare up in the region again, her and her team will be back in the kitchen baking treats for the workers they’ve inspired over the last couple months.