By Chandler Lutz


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Ted Brinkley has made thousands of desserts over the course of decades, and he has done it for free.

“It’s a labor of love, because I think I’m doing something that will help a lot of people that are in need,” he said.

Every Wednesday, Brinkley bakes. This labor of love started after he retired in the early 1990s.

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“I didn’t do anything for maybe a year or so,” Brinkley said. “I would go to the movie theater, and I would be the only one at the theater and I thought that was fantastic, but I said, ‘There’s more to life.'”

Brinkley decided to volunteer and found MANNA, which makes nutritious meals each month for thousands of Philadelphia residents with life-threatening illnesses, at no cost.

“I started basically like everyone else here, chopping celery, onions, potatoes,” Brinkley said.

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Head chef Keith Lucas remembers Brinkley approached him one day: “‘Keith, I’m tired of cutting onions!’ And I was like, ‘Well, Ted, what if I teach you how to bake?’ He said, ‘Well, I’d love that.'”

Ted has been baking nourishing desserts for clients ever since.

“He is one of our best bakers now,” Lucas said.

The huge batches require dozens of cups of ingredients. In the early days, the eggs had to be cracked by hand.

“So if the recipe called for 120 …” Brinkley said.

“Get cracking!” said CBS3’s Chandler Lutz.

“Crack the 120 eggs!” Brinkley said. “But now we use liquid eggs, which makes it a lot easier.”

Brinkley lost track of exactly how long he’s been a volunteer, but managers there say it has been at least 23 years, making him MANNA’s longest-serving volunteer.

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“He’s kind of my hero in that way,” said Alisa Cotter, who has volunteered at MANNA for two years.

So we’re giving 3 Cheers to Brinkley, the volunteer who has been baking up love for over two decades.

“We thank you for that, Ted,” Chandler said.

“And I still go back and chop onions and celery,” Brinkley said.