Contributed by Kristi Knoedler , Sunbeam Kids Board Member
Birthdays at our house mean a special dinner, cake, presents, and time spent with friends and family. A few years ago, we started a new birthday tradition–Birthday Kindness Projects. We didn’t set out to make this a tradition, it just sort of happened. My son, who was five at the time, was sitting next to me as I read an email from the organization charity: water. I told him about people who donated their birthdays to charity: water instead of receiving presents. This seemed like a tough sell to a five year-old, but we talked about the idea of raising money for charity: water in honor of his birthday. He was on board!
We read about communities who have been helped by charity: water and talked about what life would be like if you couldn’t turn on the faucet to get clean water. We sent emails to family members and asked them to donate to his campaign. My husband and I donated, and our three year-old contributed some money from his piggy bank. He raised $238.45 that year and helped bring clean water to a community in Ethiopia.
What started as a whim, has evolved into a family tradition for the four of us. The person celebrating the birthday chooses a charity kindness project, and each of us contributes an amount of our choosing. Wallets and piggy banks are pulled out, and I’m always touched by my kids’ willingness to give. We all choose our own project, something that we value or feel connected to.
My son did a food drive for his fourth birthday after doing a similar project with his preschool. He took the money we donated, went shopping, and then delivered the food to the Hunger Task Force. Last year I chose a charity that supports families with autism in honor of a family friend. We’ve given to hurricane relief, the Humane Society, Donor’s Choose, and three projects with charity: water (my oldest son’s favorite). We were inspired by a Sunbeam Kidsproject at the Guest House and chose them as a kindness project recipient. There are no rules about how much anyone needs to give. You give what feels right to you.
And so four times a year, we make a cake, blow out the candles, and do a little something to help others. It’s tradition, one I hope lasts for many years to come.
Contributed by Kristi Knoedler, Sunbeam Kids Advisory Council