Earlier tonight our family had a family celebration of our daughter’s birthday. While we didn’t do much, we gave her a gift, a special meal, and some cake. I hate to imagine a child being sad because their family couldn’t afford a birthday gift. Today’s organization is making a difference for those kids.
Cheerful Givers provides toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift. They believe this simple gesture boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth and strengthens bonds in less fortunate families.
Cheerful Givers began when founder Robin Steele was touring a food shelf when the barren birthday shelf met her. The thought of a child’s birthday passing without recognition lit a fire in her heart and stirred her to action. Robin created twelve birthday bags filled with toys and dropped them off at the food shelf on a Sunday night.
Early Monday morning a call came to share the heart-warming story of a woman who had come to the food shelf looking for a food item to celebrate the birthday of one of her children. Her despair turned to joy when she was presented with a birthday bag that she could now give to her child. Overwhelmed with joy the woman exclaimed, “The whole way over on the bus I prayed and prayed that there would be something here for me to give my child, but I never dreamed that there would be something so beautiful!” Within hours, all the bags were gone. Cheerful Givers was born. Since 1994, more than 380,000 bags have been provided less fortunate children with a Happy Birthday.
Cheerful Giver’s celebrates that every child’s birthday is a very special day and that every child has the right to have it recognized. A birthday celebration is important to the development of self-esteem and healthy self-esteem is critical to a child’s ability to develop and learn successfully. However, for children who are living in poverty and/or homeless, birthdays pass with little or no celebration due to a family’s limited financial resources. There are many children who do not believe they have a birthday, or that they deserve a birthday, since it is never celebrated. These birthday bags send a message that every child is important.
Cheerful Givers serves families primarily throughout the state of Minnesota but they work with thousands of volunteers throughout the country.
How can you help?
- Make an online donation to purchase items and supplies to make birthday bags. Every $10 donation provides supplies to make one gift bag filled with toys!
- Hold a Birthday Bag Blitz by collecting toys, bag them in gift bags, and donating them to a local shelter. E-mail Karen to let her know about your donation inspired by Cheerful Givers.
- Donate toys, crayons, puzzles or other items for kids ages 3-12.
- Spread the word about the organization by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook.
- The organization is also looking for additional volunteers such as bloggers, grant writers, and sponsors. Please visit their website for details.
Update 10/2012: If you live in the Twin Cities area, sign up now to participate in our Make A Difference Day event from 1-2 pm on Saturday, October 27 when 120 volunteers will fill 3,001 birthday bags at Thomson Reuters headquarters in Eagan, MN. You must register by October 17 to participate.