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Two Boys and an Oven

This article appeared in an Omaha newspaper. Presumably the "friend in Nigeria" this article refers to is Samuel Ochenjele. Sources in Otukpo inform us that Samuel runs Livingstone Academy, a school that is funded by the Geftakys ministry; there is no orphanage, and there are no AIDS orphans in the school.

Published Friday
December 31, 2004

Brothers still rollin' in the dough



When Phil and Ben Sjogren look back on these years, their memories will be a blur of flour, sugar and chocolate chips.

Early mornings, mixing cookie batter. Late nights, cleaning the kitchen.

When the two brothers, now 13 and 11, started baking back in August 2003, it was supposed to be a short-time gig. They wanted to raise $350 to help pay for summer camp.

They started selling cookies, $4 for a baker's dozen, to friends and neighbors - and made their camp money in no time.

But Phil and Ben decided to keep baking. They wanted to raise money to help a family friend in Nigeria who runs an orphanage for children with AIDS.

And then they decided to raise more money to help needy families at their grade school.

When I interviewed the boys at Christmas 2003, Phil seemed ready to hang up his apron.

But a year later, the brothers are still in the kitchen. Their business, "Two Boys and an Oven", has raised thousands of dollars this year, and the boys haven't kept any of it for themselves.

Maybe you saw them this past summer, selling baked goods outside Sam's Club in west Omaha. Their summer profits went to a young family from Hallam, Neb., that lost everything in May's tornado.

Phil and Ben's mom, Chris, helps some, but the boys buy all their own ingredients and do most of the work themselves.

They've made care packages for college students and soldiers, cookie trays for parties and offices. . . . They'll bake just about anything someone requests.

The week before Christmas, they started baking before 7 a.m. and ended after midnight. (The boys have already blown out one motor in their mammoth KitchenAid mixer.)

Making time for cookies is harder now that Phil is in junior high and playing basketball. (Basketball, not baking, is his true passion, his mom says.)

How long can they keep this going?

"We've made a commitment to go at least six months," Ben said. After that, Phil might quit. But Ben hopes to keep baking with their 10-year-old sister, Brita.

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