Inspired by Birthday Generosity

Birthday generosity makes me happy. So forgive me for sharing yet more examples of people doing good deeds with their birthdays.

In Lynchburg, West Virginia, a pair of siblings asked friends to bring toy donations to their birthday party. Josie, 7, and Jett, 9, then took the gifts to donate to a local non-profit that helps kids going through the court system — many of the under the age of five. These youngsters have been taken from their homes and had to leave their things behind, so this #bdaygenerosity is certainly appreciated.

Homeless pets were the beneficiaries in Richmond, Virginia, when two boys asked for birthday donations to a pet shelter. Hatcher and Sam asked for gifts they could give to animals in need, and also set up a lemonade stand to raise added funds!

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Adults get in on the action too. A women’s auxiliary in California hosts an annual Birthday Luncheon to collect gifts for the local Children’s Fund serving neglected, abused and abandoned children San Bernardino County. Now it in its 19th year, the luncheon has donated more than 42,000 gifts to the group. In May 2017 alone the group collected 5,417 birthday gifts to give.

Others are inspired to found organizations dedicated year round to the cause of celebrating birthdays. In Charleston, South Carolina, Steffi Green and her husband founded Birthdays for All to celebrate birthdays for children in foster care.

“I never want a kid to look back on their life and be like ‘I never had a birthday,’ ” Green said.

Megan Yunn is similarly determined. Her non-profit Beverly’s Birthday holds about 120 group birthday parties a year in the greater Pittsburgh area for over 2,000 children and guests. The group distributes over 1,300 presents.

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“We all have birthdays, and everyone should know that they are loved, cared for, that they’re noticed and special,” Yunn has said. “Birthdays are joy and hope and smiles. It’s not about lavishness, it’s just about the notion that there are genuinely good people out there and we want to be able to support these families.”

Imagine not knowing the birthday song.

Birthday Party

Photo credit: origami_potato via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

One of my loyal readers sent me this heart-wrenching public service announcement on the heels of a recent post about the birthday song. The ad is 30 seconds of sweet and sadness in which small children identify songs played on a recorder — only they don’t know the Happy Birthday tune.

This PSA is by the Boston-based Birthday Wishes, which helps throw parties for homeless children.

Recently, the founder of a similar organization, Extraordinary Birthdays, was recognizes as a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth in 2015. Schinell Leake wrote about her organization’s birthday party planning goals for the Huffington Post. I want to share some of her words:

A birthday is one of the most special days in the year of a growing child. He can be the center of attention. She can be the recipient of gifts and much deserved praise.

It’s not just about celebrating a birthday — which every child deserves — it’s about being able to foster their growth, development, and self-esteem despite external circumstances. Feeling valued is every child’s basic right.

Taken together, this video and these words, get to the very heart of my love for birthdays. Birthdays are about making each individual feel special — even if you are taking the opportunity to treat yourself better for that one day.

They are a day to show our loved ones how much we care about and value them, even if we don’t get around to demonstrating it so openly every other day of the year.

I have mentioned organizations such as this before, ones that aim to make birthdays better for others with an outpouring of generosity. I can’t get enough of them. This is service to community that makes me smile (and sort of want to cry that’s it even needed) every single time.

Everyone should know what it is to be celebrated on their birthday, and I only hope this blog helps keep the momentum going.

Related reading:

Donating a Birthday

Birthday Kindness Pass It On 

 

No Further Use for this Birthday…

I’ve written previously about kind folks donating as part of their birthday. If I find a current example I post it on twitter under #generousbday. Today, though, I want to share a past occurrence of birthday generosity. Author Robert Louis Stevenson, who you likely know best for Treasure Island, gave up his birthday to a 12-year-old girl.

Image source: http://i.guim.co.uk

Annie Ide, daughter to the U.S. Commissioner to Samoa where Stevenson was at the time living, was churlish about having been born on Christmas Day. So, Stevenson, wrote up a contract granting her rights to his November 13 birthday.

“…considering that I, the said Robert Louis Stevenson, have attained an age when O, we never mention it, and that I have now no further use for a birthday of any description…” he transferred “All and Whole of my rights and privileges in the 13th day of November, formerly my birthday, now, hereby, and henceforth, the birthday of the said A. H. Ide, to have, hold, exercise and enjoy the same in the customary manner, by the sporting of fine raiment, eating of rich meats and receipt of gifts, compliments and copies of verse, according to the manner of our ancestors.”

He did ask that she add the name Louisa to hers “at least in private” and charged her to use the “birthday with moderation and humanity.”

The document was even witnessed and sealed before being sent on to the lucky girl. He was only 41 when he made the donation, but regrettably died three years later succumbing to the ill health that had brought him to Samoa in the first place.

Perhaps it’s karma that the world-renowned author of Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is now consistently feted on his “unbirthday” in his native Scotland on RLS Day.