When you’re a kid in the hospital or a kid in a homeless shelter, you might not have a birthday celebration. And if you do, you might not get a present. If you’re a college student in foster care, there might be no one to send you a care package. That’s where these nonprofits step in.
When Stephanie Frazier Grimm would visit her godson in the hospital, she’d notice that the hospital gave kids a present on their birthdays but that there weren’t parties. Recalling her own thirteenth birthday spent in the hospital, she decided to change how hospitalized children celebrate and founded the Confetti Foundation. The foundation delivers a birthday box with handmade birthday cards, party supplies, a toy, a book, crayons, colored pencils and other supplies for kids who are in the hospital or hospice. Families can request one of more than a hundred birthday boxes with themes ranging from Fortnite to unicorns. And when there’s a special request, like one family’s request for a “camouflage” birthday, the foundation finds a way to pull it off. The birthday boxes even include a roll of tape so that families, who often don’t leave their sick child’s side, can hang up the streamers, banner and decorations. The organization needs volunteers to make birthday cards and birthday banners, and you can also donate $50, which covers the cost of a birthday box and shipping to a hospital.
Paige Chenault, a former event planner, was pregnant and thinking about the birthday parties she’d throw for her future child when she opened a copy of Time magazine and saw a photograph of a child living in poverty. What about him? she thought. What about kids who won’t have birthday parties? So she started throwing a monthly birthday party for kids at a homeless shelter in Dallas and called it the Birthday Party Project. During the first party, an eleven-year-old approached her and said, “Thank you, Ms. Paige. This is the first birthday party I’ve ever had.” Today, the nonprofit brings birthday parties to shelters in nineteen cities every month. If you live in one of those cities, you can volunteer. Anyone can donate toward the parties, and you can also donate $50 to cover the cost to create and ship a birthday in a box to social workers who are working with kids in homeless shelters or foster care.
In addition to mentoring, college scholarships and other services, FC2S provides care packages that include cards, cookies, booklets about succeeding in college and gift cards for foster youths in college. Its Valentine’s care package includes a red scarf that volunteers knit or crochet. “It’s so critical for the students to know someone cares,” Executive Director Eileen McCaffrey says. “We get calls and emails from students all the time about how much the care packages mean to them.” A donation of $100 covers the cost of one care package.