I joined Ann Curry's 26 acts last month. If you haven't heard of it, Ann Curry of NBC News asked her viewers to do 26 acts of kindness in memory of the 20 children and 6 teachers killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
I've been thinking about it and trying to decide how I can best honor those 26 lives. I've been following #26acts on Twitter and getting ideas from other participants. I thought I should do something to benefit children and I wanted it to be a New England organization. I'll share the other things I do as I do them but this post is just about act one.
The photo above is of a birthday box or a birthday IN a box. I have created a birthday party in a box for a homeless child. I am donating this box with the Hello Kitty theme, of course, to Birthday Wishes. Birthday Wishes is a Massachusetts organization that brings birthday parties to children living in homeless shelters. They bring parties to nearly 100 shelters in the state.
The donor wraps a box in birthday paper and fills it with everything needed for a party. You can pick the gender/age and theme or chooses to donate based on gender and theme. I decided to do a party for a 5 year old girl and I chose to go with Hello Kitty paper goods. I went to Target and got 3 gifts for "my" little girl. I got her some Moonlight Fairies (so cute, they glow in the dark), a bracelet making set ( you can make and decorate little bracelets) and a sticker book with tons of stickers and reusable pages. I also bought her a little Hello Kitty purse filled with more stickers and a card game for her party. I know a 5 year old me would want these gifts and this theme.
With the box you must include party hats, decorations, tablecloth, plates, cups, napkins, balloons, candles, and juice boxes. If the shelter has kitchen facilities, you donate a cake mix and can of frosting. Some of the children live in hotels and in this case the donor buys a gift card so a cake can be bought from the grocery store.
Today I dropped the box off at the church where Birthday Wishes has an office. I donated the party box to a safe shelter and this means I could not hand deliver to the actual facility. Courtney who communicated with me via email to arrange everything, accepted my donation and asked me if I wanted to see the operation. Of course I did.
There were shelves of toys, paper goods, empty wrapped boxes, and cake mixes. I thought they really didn't need my help but Courtney told me they can be wiped out of everything at any time. In fact, she had an emergency call for 20 boxes for tomorrow. She said sometimes they receive a call from a case worker who has a client in an emergency shelter. An emergency shelter client is someone who has fled their home because of a safety/domestic violence issue. Sometimes the case worker finds out that the child's birthday was the day before. How sad, I can't imagine it.
Courtney told me that they have a group of women that meet at the church at night and they wrap the boxes with birthday paper. It's a big help for the staff when the box is already wrapped.
I am going to ask my company to get involved, just think of how many more birthday parties we could do! If not, that's ok because I will definitely do this on my own or with a few friends and coworkers who are already interested. You get such a high from knowing you did something special for someone, even if it is a stranger. Don't you think? I think the 20 children and 6 teachers I am honoring with this act would love the idea of giving a homeless child a birthday party.
I can't wait to do the remaining 25 acts of kindness. It's going to be as good for me as for the recipients!
So here's the link again to Birthday Wishes, there's lots of volunteer opportunities if you are interested. Be sure to watch the video entitled Joy.