STILLWATER — Devin Villa’s 4-year-old daughter, Mia, is kind of famous these days.
She’s not an actress or a singer. While she’s cute as a button, she’s not modeling kid clothes.
Mia, clad in pretty dresses, curly pigtails with bows and a smile brighter than confectioners’ sugar, is a baker. Her signature chocolate chip cookies have been making the rounds to local essential workers and first responders since July, when Villa and Mia created Mia’s Cookie Jar.
“She’s beginning to understand the toll these workers take when they go to work each day and perform what can be thankless jobs,” Villa said. “When we make deliveries, she is able to articulate what she’s seeing.”
Villa has had Mia as a sous chef since she was 8 months old, when she was tall enough to see the counter on a stool. When COVID-19 shut down the Capital District, Villa, a stay-at-home mom, was looking for ways to keep her children involved in the world. Knowing Mia’s favorite food is chocolate chip cookies, mom and daughter decided to deliver some fresh baked cookies to essential workers.
Villa said the first few deliveries were basic. They would drop off the fresh-baked cookies, take a few pictures and would be on their way. Now, Mia’s Cookie Jar is almost entirely supported by Mia’s talent.
“The only thing she doesn’t do is anything with the oven,” Villa said. “But she measures everything out. She forms them. She mixes them. She knows exactly what goes in the cookies and what ingredients she needs. I’d bet money she’d be able to identify her measuring cups in a line up.”
While Mia hasn’t learned fractions yet, she knows what her measuring cups look like. She can tell when the size is off. The consistency of each batch is impressive, even before you remember she’s a toddler.
As she waits for her cookies to bake, Mia draws a picture for each delivery. The picture shows the first responders or essential workers she will be rewarding. Villa said Mia is proud of her art and thinks the presentation is the best part of their day.
“She goes right up to these people, who she’s never met, and will walk them through the picture,” Villa said. “One police officer said he was going to hang the picture in his office and she was really excited.”
Mia’s great-grandfather, Doug Greth, is beyond proud of the compassionate girl Mia has become. He and Mia’s great-grandmother, Dolores, have been following her journey since its first days and are overwhelmed with the appreciation lavished on the little girl.
“We have such a great family unit and Mia shows how we value goodness in our family,” Greth said. “The cookies and the picture show such a tremendous effort and is evident that Mia’s cookies are making a wonderful difference with each batch.”
Greth added Villa is an “incredible mom” and she takes ideas and advice given to her and runs with it.
Villa said since the beginning of Mia’s business, she’s had quite a few donations, which helps with the financial toll. On Mia’s Facebook page, Villa showcases donations from places like Hershey’s (who sent a massive gift basket of Mia’s favorite ingredient, chocolate chips, amongst other goodies) and Price Chopper. She’s also received random gifts, like markers, stickers and toys.
Villa said the cookies are remembered — when Mia’s brother had a recent medical scare, paramedics were called. The unit that showed up was one that Mia had recently delivered to.
“They kept telling her how much they loved the cookies,” Villa said. “Everyone loves to see her.”