As a child, birthdays are important. Amber Stout, senior in social work, recognizes this importance and wants every child to be able to open presents and celebrate. Stout is raising money and awareness for Celebrating Birthdays.
“…You know whenever you were a kid, remember how important your birthday was?” Stout said. “Everyone was excited for you (and) you were excited for it… It was just super important as a kid and some kids don’t get that.”
Celebrating Birthdays is a project that was started last year by local Girl Scout troop #70082 and the Lamar Elks Lodge #2800. They create packages for foster children and children whose families are dealing with an emergency in Barton, Cedar, Dade, and Vernon counties in Missouri. The packages include all the ingredients needed to bake a cake, a birthday banner, a birthday card and a gift. Each package is about $35.
They used to hold monthly wrapping parties for Volunteers to choose and wrap the gifts and books for the children, but those parties have been suspended due to the pandemic and stay at home orders.
Last year, Celebrating Birthdays gave out 124 birthday packages.
To keep the program going it costs about $4000 annually. It is partially funded by grants from the Elks National Foundation, but it also relies on community support and donations.
Stout chose to raise money and awareness for Celebrating Birthdays for her senior project in social work. Stout also helped start the project and is a member of the Elks Lodge and is a troop leader for the Girl Scouts.
“I just like kind of want to make it to where every kid at least has the chance for that even if it’s a financial reason that they can’t. This gives them a chance to get to make the cake, which we’ve heard a lot of kids really actually like doing that. They have never had the chance to make a cake before and so it’s really fun for them. They get a nice present, like we make sure the presents are all worth at least 25 dollars. So, it’s not just some Dollar General stuff or anything, it’s a decent present. We don’t actually get to see any of these kids opening it, so we just really hope that we’re making them smile and brightening up their day. A lot of them are in foster care. The ones that aren’t in foster care, they’re usually like in a crisis situation of some sort like recently lost a job in the family type of thing or something.”
There are a couple of different ways that people can donate.
“So, if you go to our Facebook page, Celebrating Birthdays MO, there are several links on there (to donate),” Stout said. “We have an Amazon wish list with items that we regularly need, candles and frosting and stuff. We also have a Venmo account set up for it and there’s currently a Facebook fundraiser going on. So, they can donate any of those ways. There’s also like you can donate through Facebook Messenger. So, basically contact us on Facebook or with the number that was provided in the media release.”
Stout doesn’t believe she will reach her goal of $500 but knows that every dollar counts and can’t help children celebrate their birthdays.