Nonprofit helps youths in foster or kinship care celebrate birthdays

Press Staff Writer

        Giving Birthdays, Inc a nonprofit organization that serves Wood, Sandusky, Seneca and Erie counties, welcomed three new board members in 2023.
        The mission of Giving Birthdays is to provide youths in foster or kinship care the opportunity to celebrate their birthday and make a birthday wish. An entire birthday celebration is assembled, packaged, and then delivered to a foster or kinship care youth. This “party in a box” includes a birthday cake, candles, party plates, birthday presents and party decorations. Each one is customized to the child and his or her interests, talents and wishes.
        Giving Birthdays was launched in 2021 through the Sandusky County Young Professionals Group. Throughout that first year, the organization celebrated 53 youths in foster and kinship care.
        News spread about the program, and in January 2022 the program expanded into Wood County and served a total of 130 youth between the two counties.
        “When we merged into Wood County, the board knew that we needed to begin working on becoming our own organization. In February of 2022, we became a registered nonprofit through the State of Ohio, and recently obtained our 501(c)3 status through the IRS,” said Andrea Gibson, Giving Birthdays founder and president.
        The Giving Birthdays board did not slow down throughout 2022, working on outreach within area communities and doubling the number of counties served for 2023.
        “In 2023, we began celebrations in both Erie County and Seneca County,” Gibson said. “In 2023, we have already served 53 birthdays – the same number of birthdays we served in all of 2021 – and expect to serve over 300 birthdays this year alone.
        “Every child deserves the opportunity to celebrate special milestones throughout the year,” she said “By Giving Birthdays providing a birthday celebration, we are letting every child know that they are special, as well as, providing support to their caregivers. It takes a village to raise a child. The Giving Birthdays program is available to help be a part of their village.
        “More often than not, children are placed in a home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. A lot of youth in foster or kinship care have never celebrated their birthday before or eaten a piece of a cake off of a birthday party plate on their birthday,” shared Gibson, who is a mother, wife, and kinship mother to two nieces. “The Giving Birthdays Board and our sponsors want to make sure that every single child knows that they are so worthy of a celebration, and realize that impact that celebrating a birthday can have on a child’s mental health.”
        The Giving Birthdays Board is comprised of nine community members throughout three of the counties that are currently being served, including representation from County Job and Family Services, Foster and Kinship Parents, and Public and Private Sectors.
        In January 2023, the board approved the following slate of officers for an additional one-year term: Andrea Gibson, president; Jeremy Bowling, vice president and secretary and Megan Craun, treasurer.
        The board also approved the following new board members to serve three-year term: Jenni Zaika, Alisha Chamberlain, and Jenn Dirnberg. Additional board members currently serving three-year terms include Fremont Mayor Danny Sanchez, Mel Cook and Micah Dezanett.
        “We are so excited to have Jenni, Alisha, and Jenn as a part of the Giving Birthdays Board and team,” Gibson said. “All three of them were already knowledgeable about our organization prior to joining the board, and they each bring different expertise that will really help propel our organization in each one of our communities served.”
        Gibson said the Giving Birthdays Board would like to thank Super Birthday Sponsors including Impact Credit Union, UIS Insurance, and IDS; Giving Birthdays Toy Sponsors including Your Legacy Credit Union, First National Bank, Whirlpool – Clyde Division, Sprouse Insurance and The Bingham Group – Ameriprise Financial; and the Party Supplies Sponsors including Parkmont, Style Crest, The Lang Family Charitable Fund, Zeis Management, and Sarah J
        “Without these sponsors, as well as, the Birthday Drives, Friend of Giving Birthdays, Party Planner and Individual celebration donors, Giving Birthdays would not be able to continue to celebrate every single referral that is provided through each county job and family services,” she said.
        Individuals or companies interested in getting involved with Giving Birthdays may email Gibson at Giving Birthdays is social and can be found on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Join the party @GivingBirthdays.


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