Boston-Area Nonprofit Spotlight :: Birthday Wishes
The Greater Boston area is home to many exceptional nonprofits, but the ones that serve moms are especially close to our hearts. Boston Moms is excited to spotlight and support the local nonprofit organizations that make our area so great.
This month we are showcasing Birthday Wishes!
We spoke to Deborah Sherman, director of communications and marketing, who shared more about their mission and amazing work throughout Greater Boston.
Where are you located? Natick, MA
What is your mission? The mission of Birthday Wishes is to improve and empower the lives of homeless children and their families by providing joy, play, and hope through the magic of a birthday party. Our goal is to ensure that children experiencing the trauma of homelessness have the opportunity to celebrate their birthday joyfully, surrounded by family, friends, and others who care.
How does helping children celebrate their birthdays make an impact? Birthdays provide the opportunity for reflection, celebration, and hope. Birthday parties are a common event in the lives of most families, but for children experiencing homelessness, families may be unable to maintain their routines and rituals. Birthday Wishes ensures that children are not denied this important rite of passage simply because of their living situation. Birthday celebrations build self-esteem and provide a sense of normalcy not often experienced by homeless children. The Birthday Wishes program ensures that every birthday child we serve knows the day they were born was a very special day.
What does the birthday in a box program look like right now? Prior to COVID, Birthday Wishes had two types of parties. There were on-site parties, where volunteers or shelter employees threw a monthly birthday party for all the families living in a shelter, and the other was our birthday-in-a-box program, which served children in domestic violence shelters, scattered sites, and other locations that could not accommodate an on-site party. When the pandemic began we had to make a lot of decisions quickly if we wanted to ensure no birthday was missed. We transitioned all of our partners into the birthday-in-a-box program, and our organization is now delivering birthdays-in-a-box to approximately 300 families each month.
When the birthday child receives the box, what does it look like? The birthday-in-a-box is a brightly wrapped box that contains everything you need to throw a birthday party — paper goods, decorations, cake baking supplies (cake mix, frosting, cake pan, and birthday candles), and, of course, birthday gifts. Whenever possible, we try to provide a birthday theme and gifts based on the child’s interests to ensure their day is as unique and special as they are. The birthday-in-a-box empowers the family to celebrate their birthday child’s special day in the way they choose to.
We’re excited to hear you’ll be launching a new birthday-in-a-box especially for teens! We love serving our teen birthday kids, and it’s especially important because teens are so often forgotten when people think of helping children. Teenagers present a unique challenge in that they understand more about their living situation and also have a lot more opinions about what they like and want. We’re currently working on a new birthday-in-a-box that is more relevant for our older teens (ages 14-17)! The new box will be less about the traditional birthday party and more about just having fun and celebrating. We’ll be including birthday-themed photo props for selfies, plus decorations, a birthday cookie, and other fun stuff. Rather than trying to guess what they want, we are now going to give them gift cards.
We’re really excited about this and are actively looking for funding for this program. You can help us with gift cards by donating HERE. We are also accepting donations of birthday-themed physical gift cards at our Natick office.
You have an AWESOME way for families and kids to get involved with your fundraising — tell us about your “Hearts and Crafts” program! One of the main components of a Birthday Wishes party is a craft and related activity. Children enjoy a sense of accomplishment completing a project, and it provides an easy way for us to get parents and older kids involved in the party as they help the younger kids. We started Hearts and Crafts as a way to support Birthday Wishes while experiencing some of the same crafts and activities we did at our shelter parties. Each kit contains supplies, instructions, and the opportunity to open a dialogue between parents and children about homelessness.
For a $25 donation, you can choose from our “thanks a bunch bouquet” — a paper flower project perfect for saying thank you to a favorite teacher, babysitter, or grandparent — or our “pet pack,” where your child can make their own puppy puppet. All proceeds benefit our monthly birthday-in-a-box program. You can purchase a Hearts and Crafts kit HERE.
Tell us about the Walk for Birthdays coming up! Our annual Walk for Birthdays is coming up on Sunday, June 12, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. in Natick! It is our most important fundraiser and plays a critical role in ensuring that we can continue to provide our program to thousands of children throughout New England. It’s been two years since this event was in person, and we are excited for everyone to start turning miles into smiles! This year’s event will be hybrid in that participants can walk, run, swim, or cycle on their own, or walk a one-mile course the day of the event. You can register as an individual or form teams with family, friends, or colleagues.
Walkers are asked to raise funds through a fundraising page that they can customize with photos and a message about why they are supporting Birthday Wishes. It is a great family event and a way for kids to help kids! We’ll also have an appreciation party with kids’ activities, games, and a service component that gives attendees the opportunity to learn about our program and build a birthday-in-a-box for one of our birthday kids. You can learn more and register HERE. All proceeds from this event go directly to Birthday Wishes.
Where can we find you on social media? You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and our website.