Every kid deserves a special birthday party, so it might surprise you to find out that many, many kids never get one at all. One Dallas woman is working to change that, and once you see what she’s doing, you’ll probably want to join in on the celebration.
This kid. He’ll move mountains one day. His mom taught him to believe in himself, and he’s smarter than the average bear. If you have the chance to say a friendly hello, smile with your eyes, and tell a kid their important..take it! Showing kids they matter is half the battle. Seize your moments!
Paige Chenault is the founder of The Birthday Party Project, a non-profit organization that raises money to throw birthday parties for homeless kids all over the country. She started the organization in 2012 when she was pregnant and working as an event planner. She tells Today Parents the idea came to her when she saw a photo of a malnourished Haitian child and realized that not every kid gets a special birthday celebration. She says, “I could do a lot of things for my kid, but I want to do it in a greater way with a bigger purpose.”
She launched The Birthday Party Project with the goal of throwing a party for every homeless child in the state of Texas. From there, it expanded to include Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, and 5 other major cities. This year, they’ll host 180 different parties all across the country. It works like this:
Each month, volunteers head to shelters and transitional facilities in the chosen city and throw a themed party. Each party is decked out with decorations, music, games, and entertainment. Every child whose birthday falls within the month gets a hat, a badge, an individual cake, and a wrapped gift. Then they all have the times of their lives together.
The parties cost anywhere from $400-$1000 each, depending on how many kids have birthdays that month, and they’re generously paid for by volunteers and numerous small donations. Chenault told Today her ultimate goal is for each child to “feel something that lets them know how important they are.”
Shockingly, one in 45 children experiences homelessness each year. According to the National Center for Family Homelessness, almost 25 percent of those kids have witnessed acts of violence within their own families. Some of them are living in shelters for domestic violence survivors or overcoming abuse. Others have had equally difficult experiences and are going through really hard things in their lives. That they can have a day to celebrate and forget their worries is more than just touching; it’s vital to preserving their sense of hope and the joys of childhood.
It’s so easy to take something as simple as a birthday party for granted. We get caught up in invites and Pinterest crafts, menus, and gifts. It’s easy to forget that the ability to celebrate a birthday at all is a tremendous gift. Underneath it all, birthdays are really about showing people that they matter and that you’re happy to have them around. Every single child deserves to feel that, and it’s so inspiring to know there’s an organization out there working to make it happen.