Food Network Challenge

Sam OpdenboschSam Opdenbosch, the owner of Marietta-based Sam’s Cookie Company, donated $5,000 of her winnings from the Food Network show, "Christmas Cookie Challenge" to the Staff Support Fund at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

After years of perfecting her cookie recipe through experimentation on her daytime sales job customers, Sam started Sam’s Cookie Company in 2018. Just before COVID hit, the Food Network’s production company reached out to Sam via Instagram and inquired about her interest in trying out for their show. She went through the audition process but was not chosen at that time.

A year later, Sam auditioned again but was chosen as an alternate. As the pandemic story goes, the contestant who was initially chosen contracted COVID and could no longer compete. Sam received another call, and this time she not only was able to compete but won $10,000.

In her interview with the AJC, Sam explained how she settled on donating part of her winnings to Piedmont. "We (my husband and I) started thinking about all the people who have kept us safe," she said. They thought about health professionals and frontline workers, and their research led them to the Piedmont Healthcare Staff Support Fund.

The Staff Support Fund at Piedmont began as a community response to the pandemic in early 2020. The funds pay for initiatives that help raise employee morale like staff celebrations, daycare expenses, and mental and emotional support services.

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