Homeless Kids Deserve Birthdays, Too

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birthday cakeIn the past, we’ve written a lot about the kind of people who complain in the grocery store checkout aisle about people using food stamps or EBT to buy birthday cake mix for their child. I’m not sure how some people are able to look at children from low-income families and think, “You know what? They deserve absolutely zero nice things.” But today, we get to talk about someone who looked at poor families trying to celebrate birthdays and who instead thought, “How can I make this better for them?”

From USA Today, Beth Brockling is the founder of Sweet Celebrations, a non-profit group based out of St. Louis, Missouri. The inspiration came to Brockling when Shalei Taylor, the young woman she was mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters became homeless–on the exact date of her 15th birthday. Brockling, with a little help from her friends on Facebook, rounded up what she needed to throw Taylor what was no doubt a much-needed birthday party. And where most of us probably would have stopped there, having done something great for a friend who needed it, Brockling looked around her community and thought, hey, there’s more work to do here.

That was about a year and a half ago, and Sweet Celebrations has already put together more than 300 parties for children who are living in local homeless shelters, personalized to a kid’s favorite things: Elmo, Minnie Mouse, superheroes, Hello Kitty. There are adorable decorated cakes, games and activities, presents, and sometimes even a visit from a kiddie favorite like Spider-man (and now I kind of wish Captain America would come to my next birthday).

But Spidey and Cap both have nothing on the real superhero of this story, who is clearly Beth Brockling. Organizing one kiddie birthday party is a lot of work, but over 300 in just over a year? Wow. But the good news is, she doesn’t have to do it all herself. She has Sweet Celebrations volunteers to help her–including Shalei Taylor. Her family is back on stable footing and she’s always on hand to help give back to the community that supported her when she was going through tough times:

“It makes me happy,” Shalei said. “Because I can sit there throw parties for these kids who are homeless knowing that I was actually in the same boat and somebody cared enough to do it for me.”


Unfortunately the foundation’s website appears to be hacked right now, so I’m not going to link there, but you should check out their Facebook page. If all the sweet little smiling faces in their photo stream don’t make your day, your heart just might be frozen as solid as the Arctic tundra. If you’re local to the St. Louis area yourself, the page also solicits volunteer help and donations (looks like the current need is picture frames), so be sure to check it out.

EDIT: The site is back up now, so here is the link if you want to check it out. Hooray!

(Image: nautilus_shell_studios / Getty)