BRIGHTENING BIRTHDAYS™ & SO MUCH MORE
Nearly 1,000 children call a Volunteers of America program "home".
In many cases it is a temporary home, while they and their family are recovering from domestic violence or experiencing homelessness. For other young people living in our group homes and treatment homes in New Jersey, they are living with us until they graduate high school and exit the foster care system as adults.
In every case, we are trying to bring stability into these young peoples' unsettled lives and help them envision a different, better future. Always, we are trying to normalize life for them, giving them as "normal" a childhood experience as we can, in these and other ways:
Operation Backpack® provides all the school supplies the children need to do their work and, just as important, go to school looking more like their classmates and less like a child in need. As they run out of supplies during the year we replenish them and if they have a special school project we make sure they have the supplies - and help - they need.
Brightening Birthdays™ celebrates the birthdays of children living in our homeless and domestic violence shelters. Every month, the children whose birthdays fall in that month are invited, along with their siblings, to a party. Each birthday child receives three beautifully wrapped gifts; they have goody bags to give their siblings and a cake or cupcakes with candles to wish upon. The birthday children are the center of attention for that period of time, with a special crown or name badge with their name on it. Corporate, individual and other community donors participate by contributing and boxing up every thing needed to throw the party. We call this volunteer event Birthday-in-a-Box. Brightening Birthdays™ relies 100% on donations from the public.
Recreation is where kids get to be kids - during school breaks our recreation staff look for free opportunities throughout the city to access for the children. We want them to experience the real world and all it has to offer outside of the shelter, just like their peers in families that are housed. Our corporate partners and individual donors provide the funds for special outings - often accompanying the children - and cultural experiences for the kids including trips to local museums or ball games.
All of these enrichments rely on funding from generous individual, corporate and other community donors.
Note: Once we raise a sufficient amount of money to ensure the continuation of Brightening Birthdays™ we will use funds for Recreation for the children.