A Berry Special Birthday Party

I wanted to take a minute and brag about my incredibly thoughtful daughter.  As you probably already know, I love planning birthday parties, so at my house, we start tossing around ideas months in advance.  Last summer, we visited an assisted living center as part of a church service project.  A few weeks later, Elyssa heard about kids donating their presents.  Moments later, she was announcing that she wanted to have her next birthday party at the nursing home and donate her presents to the residents.  It completely caught me off guard.  Donating presents, sure, but a birthday party for an 8 year old at a nursing home?  I didn't even know if it was possible.  After throwing out some alternate ideas, it was obvious that she was serious about her wishes.  I did manage to convince her that we could find children who would need and want her presents more than the senior residents.  Through a bright yellow postcard in my mail, I was introduced to a charity called Captain Hope's Kids.  In small print at the bottom of the card it mentioned birthday boxes.  Within a few minutes, I had found them online and discovered that they collect shoe boxes that are filled with goodies and wrapped to give to homeless children in our area.  Elyssa agreed that this was a great idea.  Her grandmother, my awe inspiring mom, told her she would make lap blankets to give to the residents as Bingo prizes, so that settled the gift dilema.  Guests would bring presents for homeless children and the residents would still get something great as a gift.  It was a win win.  But wait, it gets even better.  I finally got the nerve up to call the assisted living center and ask about having a birthday party for a child.  Not knowing what kind of reaction to expect, I braced myself for bad news.  God was looking out for us, because not only did the activity director say yes, he suggested that the residents could buy some items to help build more boxes.  He then went on to say that we might even be able to make it something we work together on a few times a year.  Wow...just wow! 
The party was a huge success.  There was plenty of food based around a strawberry shortcake theme.  Strawberry shortcake cookies, blueberry muffins, orange blossom muffins, mini lemon meringue pies, and raspberry tarts.  I baked for two days straight, but it was worth it.  Everyone found something they liked.  We ended up with 30 boxes between the ones people brought and the ones we built there.  All the parents were a huge help with the wrapping, but I owe the most thanks to my mom.  She crocheted and sewed a total of eight blankets, she bought supplies to wrap boxes, gathered shoe boxes from her friends at Curves, and picked up extra toiletry items to put in all the boxes.  The party would not have been what it was without her.
The blankets were a huge hit.  The kids managed to stay relatively quit for bingo so no one got upset about not being able to hear.  If it was a little awkward at first, you can tell in the last image I shared that by the end of the party everyone was giggling and laughing and having a genuinely good time. 
As we were cleaning up to go home, an unexpected moment quickly became one of my favorite parts of the day.  The resident who had set up for bingo and been showing us the ropes, pulled out an envelope and asked to share some pictures.  He was a WWII vet and had pictures and documents from when he served, including the famous picture from the battle of Iwo Jima, where he had faught.  My dad, mom, myself, and my friend were nearly brought to tears as he spoke.  Dad explained to the three girls listening that they were standing in the presence of a true hero.  This brave man refused to accept the accolades,  but you could see the pride he took in sharing some of his history.
I am so thankful to have a daughter with a true heart for God and people.  She is my constant reminder of what Jesus meant when he spoke of childlike faith.  What a blessing she is to my life!


Mommi2_2boyz said...

Tori, the pictures are phenomenal! I can show you how to make sure each of the residents gets an extra special card as a keepsake, too! Let's talk SOON! Renata


Tori said...

Thanks, Renata. One of these days life is going to slow down enough for me to check into that...and update my blog design...lol!

Sandye said...

Just stumbled onto your blog. What a wonderful daughter you have to share her birthday like that! And what a wonderful Mom you are to make not only her day special, but many others as well! You're a beautiful person indeed!

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