I love a good celebration. From Thanksgiving to the first day of summer to a friend’s promotion, there’s always an occasion to get out the glitter and craft supplies. Growing up, I never realized how lucky I was to celebrate even the smallest occasions like a birthday party. Many kids aren’t given this opportunity, like kids who have been hospitalized or whose parents have fallen on hard times, affecting their family’s financial situation.
The Birthday Party Project recognizes that children in these situations miss out on the chance to celebrate their lives once a year. Once a month at organizations throughout the country, TBPP throws a birthday party for these kids. Kids who undergo long-term care at healthcare organizations like Ronald McDonald House, or children at homeless shelters like A Safe Haven, here in Chicago.
For my regifting I partnered with the organization to help stock their party supply warehouse and to also volunteer at a few parties to celebrate with the kids in person. It was moving to see children and moms take their minds off of their situation at least for an hour. A handful of them had never received a birthday present or blown out birthday candles.
At the party I attended in November, we asked children to celebrate gratitude in addition to November birthdays. They wrote ‘Thank You’ cards to their teachers and their parents and first responders. They also decorated a “gratitude tree.” In addition to the gratitude exercise, we crafted pilgrim hats and puppets. The kids then had a dance party, ate cupcakes and pizza, and sang happy birthday. All the simple details of a usual kids’ birthday party.
It may sound cliché, but it’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the stress of finding the perfect gift and getting the Christmas tree decorated in time. Giving back through The Birthday Party Project to help children celebrate themselves and see the light in their situations was a perfect kick-off to the season. It helped me ground myself in gratitude for what I have and what I can give back. I hope to continue volunteering their the organization in the coming year.