Emerging Leaders Make Birthday Dreams Come True
Guest blogger Jordan McKerney is a marketing communications professional and a volunteer with the United Way Emerging Leaders committee, where she focuses on planning and promoting volunteer opportunities. At a recent Second Saturday volunteer event, Emerging Leaders put their creativity to work to bring hope and happiness to children experiencing homelessness.
When you’re a kid, your birthday is a big deal. You wait all year for it, you dream about the presents you hope to get and you relish in a day of being doted on by friends and family.
But what if you are a child experiencing homelessness? If your family is struggling to find permanent housing or cover the bills, there might not be enough resources for the birthday of your dreams. That’s where the aptly named Birthday Dreams comes in.
Supported entirely by volunteers and grants from organizations like United Way of King County, Birthday Dreams is dedicated to providing birthday parties to homeless children in the Puget Sound area. Birthday Dreams supports 44 shelters and group homes by hosting on-site birthday parties and also delivering “birthdays in a box” – which are customized kits including decorations, cake, presents and even goody bags for party guests. And the organization is busy – in a single month, they will give out 400 – 600 goody bags at these parties!
To help replenish their supplies, a group of Emerging Leaders recently came together to put our creativity to the test by decorating goody bags and filling them up with toys and candy.
It was hard not to let our inner children surface as we broke out the glitter glue and picked out small toys we remembered from our own childhoods. We all remembered how much these treats meant as a kid – they embodied fun, excitement and happiness. It felt good knowing these goody bags will bring smiles to the faces of children who might not have a lot to smile about on a daily basis.
When we think about issues like homelessness and poverty, many of us think about the essential needs – food, shelter and a steady job. And these are incredibly important building blocks toward a stable lifestyle. But homeless children and parents alike also need moments of levity and reminders that they are valued and cared for.
Birthday Dreams is a great example of the many organizations in our community who are not only freeing up resources for families in need so they can build better lives, but also inspiring hope. And our group of Emerging Leaders felt lucky to be a part of that important mission.