Birthday Giving: An Extra Sweet Tradition

Birthdays can be such a sweet time. Love and well wishes from near and far. And hopefully a fun celebration! My little ones love few things more than CAKE, singing, CAKE, friends and family, CAKE, and presents, of course. But one of our favorite family traditions is giving on our kids' birthdays.

When our son, Milo, turned 1, my husband and I decided that we wanted to celebrate in a nontraditional way. To give our gratitude for the day this sweet boy came into our lives, we chose to make a donation to a nonprofit organization. We did the same on his 2nd birthday, on his 3rd birthday, on his 4th birthday and on our daughter's 1st birthday. Thus, a tradition was born.

For both kids' 1st birthdays, we posted the organization we selected and our plan to give on Facebook, without expectation. We wanted to open it up just in case friends and family from afar had an interest in participating. We also had 1st birthday celebrations for both of them and requested no gifts, but mentioned guests could donate $1 if interested. We included the nonprofit website on the emailed invitation, but also had clearly labeled jars at the parties to collect donations.  Incredibly, Milo's 1st birthday raised $601 and Luna's 1st raised $889! Lovely, generous, beautiful people.

We make sure to sit our kids down with us to make the actual donation and talk about what it means to give along with the impact it can make on the lives of others. It is much less about the amount of money we donate, but truly about the act of giving. Even last year, at 3 years old, when I asked him what we were doing on his birthday, Milo's response was "We get to give money to people!" Milo turned 4 earlier this week and when asked who we should donate to, he told me he wanted to give money to "other kids." When we talked a little more about it, we decided together that we would give to an arts organization, as his current favorite activity is drawing.

Here are the organizations we have selected so far with our little family, but the possibilities are endless. There are ALWAYS organizations in need of your giving!

MILO
1st Birthday: charity:water -- Our donation helped bring clean and safe water to 159 people in the Pandheragaira Community in Nepal!

2nd Birthday: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary -- We "adopted" Quincy (the duck) and were able to meet him a few weeks later!

3rd Birthday: Whole Planet Foundation -- The idea for this donation came to us after watching the powerful documentary, Living on One Dollar.

4th Birthday: The Dreaming Zebra Foundation -- Drawing, painting, crafting, singing and creating occur nonstop in our home, so it made sense to give to an organization that promotes "greater access to arts education for children and young adults."

5th Birthday: Wellness In The Schools, specifically Cook for Kids -- Milo expressed that he wanted to give "healthy food to people." This organization is committed to inspiring "healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools."

LUNA
1st Birthday: KaBoom! -- Playgrounds are essential when living as a family of four in a 1-bedroom apartment. Plus, ALL children should have the right to play!

2nd Birthday: The Birthday Party Project -- We love celebrating birthdays in our home and what better way to share our Luna joy than by donating to support birthday parties for children living in homeless shelters and transitional living facilities! Such a fantastic organization!

Tips for Birthday Giving:

  • Do a bit of research and find an organization that speaks to you (or your children).
  • Include your children in the process. If they are older, let them choose the organization.
  • It makes giving even more fun if you can incorporate a related activity (i.e. "adopting" a duck and then visiting the farm; giving to a park conservation group and then going to the park for a day).
  • If you don't feel comfortable giving or asking for money to donate, collect or find items that are useful for your chosen organization.
    In lieu of gifts, my dear friends, Kendra & Greg, collected unopened packages of diapers at their daughter, Tessa's, 1st birthday party. With help from friends and family, they collected over 1000 diapers to donate to the Diaper Bank of Arizona! What a great idea!
  • You don't need to have kids to give on your birthday! You would be surprised how generous people are if you take up a collection for an important cause.

Have fun and share with us how you give on your birthday!

 Visiting Quincy, the duck, at WFAS for Milo's 2nd birthday. And it is here that we learned that ducks do NOT like people...

Visiting Quincy, the duck, at WFAS for Milo's 2nd birthday. And it is here that we learned that ducks do NOT like people...

 A Milo original, age 3.  "An airplane, a flying turtle, a guy who's creepy because he doesn't have eyes, a creature and his intestines--when he eats food it goes through his body and his intestines onto the ground, a sun, another creature, a bug, grass, and dirt."

A Milo original, age 3.

"An airplane, a flying turtle, a guy who's creepy because he doesn't have eyes, a creature and his intestines--when he eats food it goes through his body and his intestines onto the ground, a sun, another creature, a bug, grass, and dirt."

 Milo, checking out The Dreaming Zebra Foundation website, just before we made our donation!

Milo, checking out The Dreaming Zebra Foundation website, just before we made our donation!

 Luna, happily swinging at one of our neighborhood playgrounds.

Luna, happily swinging at one of our neighborhood playgrounds.

 Greg, Tessa & Kendra Leisher at Tessa's 1st birthday party! (Photo provided by Kendra)

Greg, Tessa & Kendra Leisher at Tessa's 1st birthday party! (Photo provided by Kendra)