The chorus of Happy Birthdayended, and the 7-year-old child stared, appearing perplexed, at the lit candle in the cupcake before him.
“He didn’t even know how to blow a candle out. The child had to be told what to do after the singing ended, and once he did, he turned around and said, ‘Can I do it again?’ ” says Amy Cervantes, co-founder and volunteer executive director of Bright Blessings, a non-profit which hosts birthday parties for homeless children throughout the Charlotte region.
For many children dealing with being homeless, celebrating a birthday may not be something they get to experience, Cervantes says. Now, as the number of homeless children and families continues to increase, non-profit organizations across the country are working to change that.
Birthday Wishes, a non-profit based in Massachusetts that was founded in 2002, has hosted more than 8,000 parties and celebrated the birthdays of more than 24,000 homeless children throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island, N.Y., says Lisa Vasiloff, executive director and co-founder.
Birthday Wishes and Bright Blessings are two of many non-profits nationwide with similar missions. Birthday Dreams serves the Puget Sound area in Washington state and has hosted more than 806 birthday parties since it began in 2009, says Nicole Thayer, communications and donor relations manager.
Volunteers of America also has a program, Brightening Birthdays for Homeless Children, which started in 2010 and operates at 11 locations nationwide, says Shelley Goode, the vice president of fundraising and financial development.