The Birthday Club is a group of children who ask for cash donations rather than gifts for their birthdays and donate the money to the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. The money is greatly appreciated as the shelter is dependent upon Donations and grants for its existence.
The Birthday Club was founded January 14, 2006 with 3 members. It currently has 21 members in 3 different schools.
The children in the shelter have been removed from their homes. They attend the local public schools with a label as a “shelter kid”. The children in the shelter believe that they are there because they are bad, which they are not. They are in bad situations. Knowing that other children care about them helps them in their general sense of well-being.
The children in the Birthday Club visit the shelter personally in small groups to make their donations. While there, they have a round table discussion with the CEO and CDO of the shelter. They discuss problems and possible solutions. The children ask that their donations go into a fund for outings and fun activities like the movies, bowling or pizza. Anything that can help the residents connect with “normal” kids living with their families helps them.
The impact has been great and 4 sided. The residents of the shelter have gotten a sense of that there are people who care about them. That helps their self-esteem, which is pretty low. The money allows them to participate in “normal kid type” activities. This helps them connect with their peers at school.
The club members learn the joy of giving, which hopefully will carry through to adulthood. It is a very fulfilling experience.
The parents of the club members attend the meetings when the donations are made. This has opened their eyes to the needs of the community. Many have collected items for the shelter. It is building tremendous awareness for the shelter. The Birthday Club is a huge morale booster for the staff who works at the shelter. They enjoy the visits very much.