LEO-owned bakery offers virtual lessons while schools are closed due to COVID-19

Cops & Doughnuts co-owners live-stream an educational segment on Facebook three times a week to entertain and teach young kids currently out of school

Heather Jordan

SAGINAW, Mich. — With businesses reducing their operations or closing their doors completely and community events postponed or canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some small businesses and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to serve their customers, virtually.

For years, the police officers behind Clare’s Cops & Doughnuts have virtually read stories to classrooms by request, said co-owner Al “Bubba” White. Now, with all Michigan K-12 schools closed for at least the next few weeks, he and his colleagues are using Facebook Live to reach out to their customers and help keep cooped-up kids entertained.

White was upbeat during an interview with MLive/The Saginaw News Wednesday, March 18. Even as schools and some businesses have been ordered to close and restaurants have had to cease dine-in services, his perspective is, "How can we make some good stuff out of this?”

Three times a week during the current three-week school closure, and perhaps for longer, White and Greg “Ryno” Rynearson, also a Cops & Doughnuts co-founder, are reaching out to their youngest fans live on Facebook. Their show, “Learnin with Bubba & Ryno!" takes place at 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Cops & Doughnuts - Clare City Bakery Facebook page.

“We thought it might just be kind of fun to have little lessons that are lighthearted, entertaining, but also learn something,” White said. "We put it out that we were going to do it and the response was unbelievable.”

In their first episode, on Monday, March 16, “Bubba” and “Ryno” took viewers behind the scenes at the bakery and showed them how doughnuts are made. The Wednesday, March 18, episode, below, was all about Michigan.


Learnin with Bubba & Ryno Lesson 2

Posted by Cops & Doughnuts - Clare City Bakery on Wednesday, March 18, 2020

“We want to gear it to 6- to 10-year-olds, but, you know, even the adults might be able to learn something," White said. “We’re having a lot of fun with it."

White also has a message for adults during this trying time: “No matter where you are, support your local businesses right now. Your big chains are going to survive, but your local businesses and restaurants, everything, they’re struggling right now."

Cops & Doughnuts isn’t the only baking company using the internet to connect with customers in new ways. Saginaw County teen baker Kamryn Chasnis, who owns a business, teaches cooking classes, and has competed on culinary competitions on TV, is now offering virtual classes.

Her virtual class on making “hamburger cupcakes” Wednesday night sold out. She also has a virtual class on making a honey glaze chicken bake scheduled to take place Thursday evening, March 19.

Chasnis is a student herself, but the 15-year-old Heritage High School freshman cannot attend school in person because all Michigan K-12 schools are closed through April 5, per Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s order.

“We were shocked by how many people signed up for the very first virtual class. We didn’t know how it was going to go over just because learning from a screen can be hard sometimes,” Chasnis said.

She’s not sure how long she’ll continue to offer the virtual classes or when she’ll be able to teach in person again.

“Right now, I’m just going with the flow…nobody really knows what’s coming," she said. In the meantime, “I still get to continue doing what I love and teaching other people.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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