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Kind-Hearted Woman Organizes Birthday Parties for Homeless Children

Texas-based Paige Chenault loves birthdays, and believes everyone should have a chance to celebrate theirs. So she hosts beautiful parties for homeless children, giving them birthday celebrations they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. She started with a few parties in Dallas and went on to found a non profit called The Birthday Party Project, with chapters across the US.

Chenault, a former wedding planner, is perfect for the job because of her extensive experience. It all started when she read a magazine on a plane about kids’ birthday parties, when she was pregnant with her daughter. “I was just dreaming about all the great stuff that I could do for my daughter, just because I was an event planner, so I thought, ‘If anybody could throw a big bash, it was going to be me for my kid,’” she said.

And then she picked up another magazine and read about poor children in Haiti who didn’t have anything. That’s when it struck her that there are millions of children in the world who not only have shelter or food, but would never be able to enjoy the kind of celebration she had in mind. “That’s where the idea came from, and it really started stirring in me,” she said.

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When Chenault got home, she immediately got down to planning birthday bashes for homeless kids, despite her pregnancy. But realised that if she wanted to do it well, she would have to understand and learn more about the community. So along with her husband, she started to research the culture of homelessness. They even volunteered at different agencies to understand the people they would be serving.

Eventually, The Birthday Party Project was born in 2012, with the goal of celebrating the birthday of every homeless child in Texas. And now, nearly four years later, the organisation has spread its wings to eight different cities including Kansas City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City, with thousands of volunteers.

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These volunteers, or ‘birthday enthusiasts’, visit homeless and transitional facilities across the country each month to host parties for all the children with birthdays in that month. Overall, a party costs about $400 to $1,000 to host, depending on the number of children involved. About 180 parties were planned and hosted this year, complete with decorations, games, music, entertainment, and cake. Each child receives their own party hat, badge, individual cake, and a wrapped present worth about $30. According to Chenault, “a lot of these children don’t know how to blow out a candle or even make a wish.”

Needless to say, the children are ecstatic about the experience, as are their parents. “It was the best thing ever,” said Maureen Jones, whose son Jayden had a party recently. “Most of us don’t have the energy, the funds or even the correct channels to provide our own children with a celebration like this. I couldn’t give Jayden what they gave him. It was so beautiful.”

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“It’s a mind-blowing experience,” added Nadia, after attending a party for her son at a domestic violence shelter. “Coming from such pain and trauma, it’s so nice to be able to relax for a minute, take a breather and to see that smile back on my child’s face. I have no words to describe the happiness and joy that I am feeling.”

Chenault says all this has been possible only through generous donations from countless people across the nation. “My goal is that each child feels something that lets them know how important they are, how much they matter,” she said. “They deserve to be celebrated, that in this moment of chaos in their life, this moment of confusion, that there is light and that there are people out there cheering for them.”

 

Photos: The Birthday Party Project/Facebook

Sources: Dallas Observer, TODAY