Sometimes it’s important to help those who are less fortunate than yourself and that idea is the driving force behind Corridor-based The Birthday Party Project, a nonprofit organization that throws birthday parties for homeless children. The project began in 2012, and is getting ready to celebrate their third year this coming January — with a birthday party, of course. Since its inception, the Addison-based organization has thrown over 600 birthdays with 5,000 birthday guests. That’s 5,000 party hats worn, 600 birthday cakes, 10 dozen doughnuts, 5,000 cupcakes and 2,600 volunteers; but really all that matters is the 5,000 children who got to go to or have a birthday party.
Lara Gaither, executive director of The Birthday Party Project, says that that is whole idea behind the organization.
“Our ultimate goal is that every child in North Texas and beyond feels special on their birthday. [It’s] allowing kids to dream big.”
A birthday party is after all a celebration of a person’s life. Family members and loved ones are symbolically giving thanks for the other person’s existence. A birthday party says, “We are grateful to have you in our lives.” It’s a lovely thought and it is expressed in such a lively way — bold colored streamers, funny hats, packages wrapped in shiny paper, silly games and lots of cake. By throwing birthday parties for homeless children, The Birthday Party Project lets these children feel valued and free to have fun and be kids — something their loved ones want for them but are unable to give.
Every month, The Birthday Party Project hosts themed birthday parties at shelters across the Metroplex and all of the children get to enjoy activities (like face painting) and crafts, games, cupcakes and party favors. A cake is also provided for children whose birthday falls within that month. However, it is the volunteers that bring a little extra excitement and make the events even more special. At The Birthday Party Project, they are not called volunteers but birthday enthusiasts.
“Volunteers are the heartbeat of what we do,” Gaither says. “Our birthday enthusiasts are special for the kids. They make the day special and make sure that they have high energy. The time they donate is really meaningful for them.”
The birthday enthusiasts are the first to arrive and the last to leave each of the 11 parties thrown in the area per month. They come early to decorate and make sure everything is ready for the children and then they celebrate with everyone and ensure that the kids are having a good time. After the cupcakes have been passed out, party favors distributed and the party has ended, the volunteers are still there to clean up. Considering how much needs to be done to make each birthday party a success, it is no wonder that The Birthday Party Project values its volunteers.
For anyone still in doubt that one birthday party makes a difference in a child’s life, consider that the project frequently hears back from these children. Most recently, the birthday enthusiasts got to see just how much they had made a difference at a party this past Sunday.
“We hear back all the time,” Gaither says. “We had a kiddo that was really shy and didn’t want to get up and dance. At the end of the party, the DJ stopped and he [the child] serenaded everyone.”
It can be exciting for a volunteer to see an immediate manifestation of the joy The Birthday Project tries to bring children at every event and gratifying for everyone who worked so hard to put the party together. Those at The Birthday Party Project have every intention of continuing their efforts to see that more and more homeless children get to feel special on their birthday and the organization is growing outside of Texas into other cities across the nation.
“We’re going to grow,” Gaither explains. “We’re going to grow into new cities. This week on Thursday we start in Detroit and we’ve already started in San Francisco.”
It is an exciting time to be a part of The Birthday Party Project, and the donors and sponsors are no doubt very proud to be a part of this expanding organization. For those who want to contribute, Gaither says it couldn’t be easier.
“Our office is in the Addison area, so if anyone has new in-package birthday surprises, just call or email us.”
Donors can also watch a party in action on the homepage or look to see how far their donation can go, whether it can provide a gift, cupcakes and part favors, decorations and games, or the whole shebang. Want to come and see what it is all about? Tickets for The Birthday Party Project’s Grease-themed three year anniversary party in January are available on the webpage.
The North Dallas Corridor can be proud of this nonprofit — bringing joy, cupcakes and face painting to homeless children in an unexpected way. Hopefully, The Birthday Party Project will continue to grow, expand into other cities and bring many more smiles every day.