Fraudsters Exploit Birthdays & Best Intentions

This blog recently covered a sweet story of two girls who see themselves as “birthday twins,” despite racial differences (and the fact that their birthdays are days away from one another). Recently, though, news came out of China of a fraudulent online fundraising campaign capitalizing on the idea of a “birthday twin.”

Chinese social media users were invited to type in their birthdays to find and donate to an impoverished student, born on the same day in a rural province. This sounds like a lovely way to personalize giving….

Until the 0fenbei site was accused of fraud. Screenshots published in Modern Express, a Nanjing-based newspaper, show a photo of the same girl offered up as having two different birthdays. In one result, “A Bi,” is born on Jan. 3, 2009, in southwestern China’s Yunnan province. In another, the girl’s name is “Gui Bi,” with a birthday of Nov. 24, 2009.

Another screenshot shows that “Xiao Dan,” another girl from Yunnan, was born on Feb. 29, 2009 — a date that doesn’t exist.

birthday giving

Birthday Giving Done Right

Wang Li, 0fenbei’s founder, issued a statement apologizing for inadequate scrutiny of students’ information, explaining that the publishing process was rushed. “There are six kids whose information is wrong,” he admitted.

The campaign, in which all donations were to have gone to Ai You Future Foundation, a Shenzhen-based charity that collaborates with 0fenbei, is now closed for donations. Yet, the site claims to have already raised more than 2.5 million yuan for 2,130 students.

Shenzhen’s civil affairs bureau is currently investigating the claims of suspicious identities.

Meanwhile, let’s end this blog on a positive note with one more of the now easy to find examples of people using their birthdays to show kindness to others. Just the week of writing this I came across these examples:

My Little Man is in Double Digits


birthday love

The kiddo in the picture above is turning 10 today. Ten! That’s double digits. As his Mom, I can tell you it is completely shocking to me that the 8 pound, 4 ounce (yes, I had to look it up — sue me) that used to span the length from my palm to my elbow is now an energetic, creative, funny, bright and (sometimes) sweet ten-year-old.

In his first year I described him as a boy whose likes and dislikes included:

  • “I like chilling on couch with Dad. I dislike sleeping for more than three hours at a stretch”
  • “I dislike being put in my crib or being left to my own devices. I like water (once I get used to it)”
  • “I dislike getting my ears checked and eating food with texture (other than Crackers/pretzels). I like cruising the furniture and eating Cheerios.”

Bigger Version of the Same

Amazingly, he’s now just a grown version of the same baby I described in that first year. For instance, I wrote at three months, that his favorite toy was “people.” It’s pretty much true still today. Sure, he wants those people to play Xbox One with him, but he’s definitely a people person.

He still doesn’t like going to bed or being left to his own devices! Judging by the opposition I face when I suggest it, he is still only a fan of water once he is actually in the tub. Plus, he still hates foods with certain textures, enjoys Cheerios, and has simply turned “cruising the furniture” into climbing all over it.

Really, the most shocking thing about I learned by getting out his baby book was how prescient his baby traits were for the boy he is today. Even “It is fun to show something (as if to give it) and take it away laughing” still fits. So does “I babble constantly.” Or “I loathe peas.” But a favorite that he hasn’t yet outgrown? “I hug.”

Thanks for putting up with this personal blog. You know I’ll be going all out today to fete my birthday boy.




Officer Brings Birthday Happiness to Boy

This one is sweet and sad. When an eight-year-old boy didn’t get picked up from school, and staff couldn’t reach an emergency contact, the police were called.

When Officer Darryl Robinson of the Green Bay Police department in Wisconsin arrived to collect the boy he recognized him immediately. He’d had a history with the family and knew the boy’s parent was incarcerated.

Even though no one had arrived to get him, the boy “was in good spirits,” Robinson said. Why not? It was his eighth birthday!

birthday generosity

Officer Robinson courtesy of GBPD

Officer Robinson courtesy of GBPDRobinson gave the birthday boy a ride in his patrol car. “He was very excited to ride in one,” he said.

Then, after reaching the grandfather to confirm it was OK, he brought the boy to McDonald’s. And just like that it was a happier birthday: “He loved playing with the toy in his Happy Meal.”

The Response is Sweet Too

People commenting on the story on the Police Department’s Facebook page thanked Robinson for his efforts. One woman offered to drop presents for the boy off at the police station to be delivered. Another commenter wrote:

“I think I just felt my heart break…Thanks to the officer for making that boy’s birthday a little better.”

I second that emotion. The officer did an admirable thing, but it’s sad to think of this boy sitting alone at school on his birthday. The good news is that it only took an hour or so before the boy could be reunited with his grandparent and siblings.

Makes me think of the blog I wrote earlier this year about being there for a kid’s birthday, and another one about agencies doing their part to make sure every child gets to celebrate a birthday. Glad to have a heartwarming tale to share though about birthdays even in the heart of this holiday season.

Birthday Love from Beyond

This one may make you a little sentimental. After all, it’s about a thoughtful Dad who arranged to have flowers sent to his daughter on her birthday — after his death.

Upon finding out his cancer was fatal, the Dad went to a local florist and prepaid for an annual birthday bouquet. He died when she was 16, but each year until she reached 21 she received flowers and a card.

birthday wish

Image: @sellersbailey Twitter

This year, her 21st birthday, she received the last of her birthday flowers. The Tennessean posted on social media a picture of herself with her Dad and an image of the flowers along with the message: “Miss you so much daddy.”

Birthday wishes continue

The Dad’s final card read: 

“Bailey, this is my last love letter to you until we meet again. I do not want you to shed other tear for me baby girl, for I am in a better place. You are and will always be the most precious jewel I was given.

It is your 21st birthday and I want you to always respect your momma and stay true to yourself.

Be happy and live life to the fullest.

I will still be with you through every milestone, just look around and there I will be.

I love you boo boo and happy birthday!!!!!


And that right there is why I love birthdays. They are an opportunity to take a moment and say the things to each other that we don’t stop and say every day. This Father had another impetus, yes, but we could all benefit from embracing the birthday as that day to openly say what is in our hearts.

birthday flowers

Image: @sellersbailey Twitter

Budgeting for Kid Birthday Gifts

Kids birthday gifts

Photo credit: JD Hancock via / CC BY

I was recently in a big box store with a nine-year-old trying to find a gift. We were having a difficult time. On the plus side, the boy is big-hearted and wants to get his friend a super-duper-cool gift. But I’m not really expecting to spend $50+ on a birthday present for a friend of his.

I told him my price range, and he promptly reminded me of how much another friend spent on a birthday present for him: “$70.” I assured him that it was probably on super-sale. I sure hope so. I cannot believe that his buddy’s parents spent that much, although the scooter was much appreciated. (And I did try hard not to take it as a sign that they didn’t want my son borrowing their son’s scooter any longer…).

Then, this week, I saw a headline: “Kids Party Gifts: How Much Do We Really Need to Spend?” I was thrilled to see I am not the only one experiencing angst over this.

Buying Kid Gifts

The article’s author said she tries to stick to a limit of $20 for each kid, which reaffirmed my own budget cap. But, then she pointed out related costs.

Apparently she hires a sitter to entertain her kids while she shops to avoid having to buy them anything. Then, there’s the wrapping and the card and she figures she’s “probably inching toward $40 per birthday gift.”

She doesn’t even calculate the value of her time in this equation!

The article, though, ends with a plea to include gift receipts. She cites the example of a Mom who traded in all of her daughter’s gifts and kept the cash. The author says it seems “kind of wrong.”

I’m not going to waffle here: The idea of me buying a gift only to have the parent return it and keep the cash gets under my skin. I’m OK with the kid making that choice and purchasing something they’d rather have, but this Mom’s recouping the cash rankles.

What do you think? What’s a good price range for a birthday present for a kid? And where do you stand on the idea of parents trading in their kids’ gifts for cash? I’d love to hear your point of view.


Birthday Card as Time Capsule

The headline on a recent story had me thinking, “so what?” After all The Daily Times was reporting: “Mail Call: Friends swap birthday greeting back and forth for 20 years.” I was thinking, I have plenty of friends I have been wishing birthday greetings to for more than 20 years!

But I did read on, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun thing Sherry Hillis and Patsy Lunde have done for decades. They’ve been sending the exam same Peanuts cartoon birthday card back and forth. The same one — for 20 years.

“Roses are red, cookies are chewy,” it says underneath her picture. On the inside, “A Year of Your Life has just gone Ka-Plooey! Happy Birthday!!”

But, what really makes the card special is the things they have written to each other over the years. Lunde even added pages to the card so that the two women could continue to catch up with one another every year.

Hallmark’s Loss

Lunde first picked out the card first for Hillis’s Sept. 1 birthday. Hillis turned around and sent it back to Lunde for her birthday just days later — Sept. 5.

That’s what they’ve been doing annually even as their careers took them in different directions — they started the tradition while both employed at the same hospital — and the children that they first met through (the girls swam together in school) grew up.

“Hallmark is losing money on us,” Lunde said.

I want to start this tradition with my friends right now! I love the idea of having an annual catch-up outside of the now obligatory Christmas card. The card that serves as an annual reminder also of what has come before and how much we friends continue to mean to each other.

Really, find someone you love, and start sharing a time line birthday greeting today. It will add even more to both of your special days.

100-year-old twins share birthday photoshoot

You’re hard pressed these days to go to a pretty park on a lovely day and not come across some carefully dressed children in front of a photographer. I live nearby a park with a lake right in the heart of Charlotte, NC, and often see kids with balloons or chalkboards announcing what birthday is being captured on film (or digital more likely). Never, though, have I seen a set of 100-year-old twins posing for the camera!

A British photographer, though, made it possible after reading about the pending centennial of two Brazilian sisters. Camila Lima, who focuses her photography on elderly subjects, contacted the family and offered to capture their big day. “I had never met anyone with 100 years, let alone twins that age…I thought, this is a moment that should be remembered for eternity.”

The siblings — Maria Pignaton Pontin and Paulina Pignaton Pandolfi of Brazil — showed up to the photoshoot with freshly styled hair and new, bright dresses.

Lima said the women were lively and excited throughout the shoot. The resulting photographs, shared on Metro News of the UK, have a festive air to them too!

I couldn’t resist sharing some of the vibrant images that the website included with its story. Seeing these vibrant smiles makes me (almost) look forward to my own 100th birthday!