Birthdays, New Beginnings & Building a Life Without Violence

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Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Jennifer Fast, volunteer Executive Director of Birthday Buddies, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.

Remember the anticipation and joy you felt as a child leading up to, and on the day of your birthday?  Children who arrive in second stage housing, along with their mothers, have just fled domestic violence. Many have left all their possessions behind, and have taken refuge in an unfamiliar place. These children have grown up too soon. GiftPacks from Birthday Buddies help reignite the spirit of childhood, offering something to look forward to – something all children look forward to – a happy birthday.

What is second stage housing?

Second Stage Housing is protective, affordable long-term housing for women who have left abusive relationships and are making positive strides towards living violence free lives. In this incredibly supportive environment, families receive emotional and practical support to rebuild their lives.  Who wouldn’t want to help these families who are so committed to improving their lives?

The difference a Birthday GiftPack can make

The mothers and their children are able to live in these wonderful facilities for a year which means each and every child is eligible for one Birthday GiftPack.  Since 2005, we’ve given these gifts to nearly 1,000 children who are struggling to cope with the traumatic effects of domestic abuse.

Imagine the delight of a child, celebrating his or her birthday in a new place, when a birthday cake complete with candles and a birthday card is placed on the table. And gifts too!  Books, a journal and pens, and age appropriate personal items, are just some of the items that each child receives. We consider the child’s favourite colours, sports and activities in order to ensure a meaningful birthday celebration.

The Birthday GiftPacks go a long way in helping the children settle into their new homes. They are eagerly anticipated from the moment the children arrive at the facility. There are always children poring over their WishLists, waiting for their GiftPack to arrive, or playing with the birthday gifts that have been received. They give every child something in common besides escaping domestic violence. These children know that there is a caring community that is rooting for them and wants them to be happy and to succeed.

Having the ability to give our children a memorable birthday is something many of us take for granted, but the impact it has in these children’s lives is big. Knowing this, many people use their own birthdays to fundraise for Birthday Buddies. Young and old, these dedicated individuals ask their birthday guests to make a donation to Birthday Buddies in lieu of  gifts. It’s an extremely meaningful way for children to feel empowered by making a very real difference in another child’s life.

Birthday Buddies Collage

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Birthday Buddies Inc. provides birthday GiftPacks to children living in Second Stage Housing for abused women. We believe that these children are particularly deserving of a birthday celebration in their honour and the delicious anticipation of receiving special gifts and much needed personal items on their birthday. Birthday Buddies is run by volunteers who work out of their homes. If someone chooses to sponsor a GiftPack they are completely responsible for the celebration that the birthday child receives – and that feels fantastic!

To learn more about Birthday Buddies, please visit their charity profile page >>>

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