I love celebrating birthdays. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from my friend birthday parties my mom would put together. I was excited to get to start our own tradition with my kids of throwing parties for them to celebrate with their friends.
Last year as we neared my daughter’s 8th birthday, I looked around her room and realized another birthday party with her friends would result in more toys, books, and stuff we probably didn’t need. She still had Christmas gifts stacked up and untouched because of our busy winter schedule!
I weighed my options. I knew we would have a party with family and a party with her friends. She would be getting gifts from her dad and I, and her extended family. Did we really need gifts from her friends too? I could always ask her friends to not bring gifts, but people still usually bring gifts.
So if people were going to bring items anyway, why not collect items for a good cause?
I approached Tessa with my suggestion, and she loved it. I gave her several options to pick from – local animal rescue organizations like the Animal Rescue League (ARL) or AHeinz in Adel, a food pantry, or the library. She chose the local library. She loves reading and going to the library so it seemed a perfect fit.
My daughter was so proud of the donations she collected, and not once did she become upset about not getting gifts from her friends.
This year, for her 9th birthday, she collected donations to the Ronald McDonald House. I was blown away by the amount of donations she collected. It was an amazing feeling taking four large boxes in to drop off. I wasn’t sure she truly understood what the Ronald McDonald house was for and was thankful she was able to tour of the facility. When we left, I could see that the magnitude of her donation had set in.
Teaching my kids about giving back to their community is important.
I want my kids to grow up knowing that even small acts of kindness can mean the world to someone. I want them to know the joy in helping others and giving. We plan on doing giving back birthday parties until we no longer have friend parties. I hope we will always make it a birthday tradition to perform an act of kindness for our community.
The trend seems to have caught on with her circle of friends. Tessa has gone to several other giving back birthday parties where donations have helped organizations in the metro area.