(CNN)800 graduation cakes. 12 schools. 5 weeks.
That's what it will take for Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop in Red Wing, Minnesota, to fulfill the graduation cake orders they received after a not-so-small act of kindness.
"Our seniors are going to be missing out on so much, so many opportunities and events, that I just felt like I needed to do something. And cake makes people happy," owner Bill Hanisch told CNN.
Hanisch was thinking of the 200 graduating seniors in his town's high school whose traditional commencement ceremony was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The thing "to do," he decided, was to make each of them a free cake: a two-layer, round, 7-inch cake, decorated in school colors -- purple and white.
"I have a lot of crazy ideas, and sometimes they're really good," he said with a booming chuckle. "You can still celebrate with your immediate family and what's a better way than with cake?"
A small-town bakery and a family tradition
Red Wing is a rural town on the banks of the Mississippi River with a population under 17,000. Hanisch Bakery is a staple of its quaint downtown area, lined with historic brick buildings and green public spaces.
Hanisch was born and raised there and is a member of the Red Wing High School class of 1998. He began working at his parent's bakery when he was 15.
"I think back to my graduation party and the cake that I was given by the bakery staff. It was a cake made out of sponge. The graduation cake is one of those things that was always important. To have a graduation cake and celebrate what you've accomplished in the last 14 years," he recalled.
Over the 25 years he's worked at the bakery, he's seen a new generation grow up on the other side of the counter. Many of the graduating seniors and their families often come in for a cookie or a pastry.
Hanisch said, to him, it's about putting a smile on their faces.