[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is made possible by Eastwood Mall and named in honor of Mark Eckert, who made a difference in the Mahoning Valley.]
YOUNGSTOWN — Courtney Poullas' first batch of quarantine-inspired bread yielded a bit more than she expected.
It's not unlike how she became the "Bread Fairy." The role just keeps rising with the demand.
"That's sort of the nickname I've been given," said Poullas.
The Youngstown resident posted to Facebook a few weeks ago when her baking yielded an extra loaf. Poullas now makes about five loaves of bread every day and delivers them for free.
"The great thing about baking bread is it's a good multitasking thing to do," said Poullas.
While the bread rises, she completes some homeschooling work with her 6-year-old daughter, Gracie, who helps in the bread-baking process.
Poullas is also a professor at Youngstown State University and Eastern Gateway Community College. She had already been teaching online writing classes this semester.
After her first few posts, Poullas received messages including one from a woman undergoing chemo for breast cancer and an elderly person who could not find bread at Schwebel's and didn't feel safe traveling to multiple stores.
"It was those kinds of things that made me think, 'Alright, that's it. I'm baking every day. I'm delivering bread every day,'" said Poullas.
She initially found flour from one of the Family Dollar stores in Youngstown. Then, Pizza Joe's learned about her bread-making endeavor and donated a 25-pound bag.
As deliveries from the Bread Fairy have taken off, about 30 percent of her requests come from people wanting to surprise their loved ones.
"I'm taking [a loaf] to Struthers to people who don't have any internet — their neighbor is surprising them," said Poullas. "It's awesome."
Scrolling through the pictures Poullas posts, you'd have no idea this was her first foray into regular bread-making. She has expanded her repertoire to include different kinds of bread, like a keto loaf with almond flour.
"It's very soothing to make bread, so I'm happy that I'm helping other people," said Poullas. "But they don't realize how much they're helping me."
To request a delivery from the Bread Fairy, you can go to Courtney Poullas' Facebook page.