Homelessness,London,Party,Birthday,The Birthday Party (band)

Birthday Party Project makes sure homeless kids get their special day

December 16, 2016
in Kids

The little girl was fidgety all day, anticipating the very second her mom would pick her up from school. "It's my birthday party!" Shelmela Robinson's daughter London exclaimed when she finally arrived. "It's my birthday party!" For London, who was turning 5, it would be the first time she'd ever had one — and it would come with the help of The Birthday Party Project, an Addison-based agency offering celebrations for homeless kids around the country. The Birthday Party Project throws 31 parties monthly in a dozen U.S. markets, including Detroit, Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It serves 12 locations in North Texas, from Dallas' Ronald McDonald House and Genesis Women's Shelter to Fort Worth's Union Gospel Mission and Samaritan Inn in McKinney. "The impact for a child who is unsheltered and uncelebrated is enormous," said Lara Gaither, the agency's partnerships director. In 2012, founder Paige Chenault, an event planner, was pregnant and thinking about the party she was going to throw for her newborn child. Then, while reading a magazine story about homelessness, she started to wonder whether homeless kids were ever celebrated. Chenault called Family Gateway and offered to throw a party for the shelter's kids. Since then, the Birthday Party Project has feted 3,000 birthdays in all, with about 20,000 kids in attendance at the parties. By Thursday night's end, London would be decorating cookies, batting around balloons and opening donated gifts along with seven other kids marking December birthdays at Family Gateway. For Robinson, who's been living at the shelter for several months along with her two daughters,...

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