CFA Relaunches Birthday in a Bag Campaign
In January, the Children’s Foundation of America relaunched our Birthday in a Bag campaign to make birthdays extra special for foster youth.
Birthday in a Bag started out as a project by a few volunteers to provide birthday bags to our partner organization Trinity Youth Services. The bags were distributed to foster youth at Trinity’s location in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. With so many volunteers and donors participating in Birthday in a Bag, it has been expanded to an ongoing campaign supporting five of the foster care and residential sites at Trinity Youth Services, across San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.
Each month, volunteers arrive at our Upland warehouse to assemble the bags for the following month’s birthdays. We recently recruited Matthew Chavez to be our Birthday in a Bag Volunteer Captain, after having volunteered for the activity every month since January.
“I love gift giving,” Matthew said. “It’s a fun experience to pick a gift and create a bag for the kids.”
Volunteers are provided a list of foster youth, their ages and their interests to pull items from our inventory of donated goodies. Volunteers fill birthday bags with cake mix, frosting, decorations, handmade card and a gift. Since the campaign began in January, 13 volunteers have helped assemble birthday bags for 40 foster youth ranging from infants to teenagers.
How You Can Help
The Foundation is collecting birthday items all year round including:
- Large party bags
- Cake mix
- Birthday decorations
Birthday in a Bag items can be dropped off at our office Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd. Ste. B-200, Claremont, CA 91711. As an alternative, a $20 donation made through our website can also provide a complete Birthday in a Bag for a foster youth. Please consider making a monthly donation to help provide birthdays for foster youth throughout the year!
Marie Maghuyop, Communications & Volunteer Relations Specialist
Marie creates content for social media, writes blogs and coordinates volunteer opportunities and events. She enjoys connecting with volunteers of diverse backgrounds and getting to know their unique stories. She has earned two associate’s degrees from San Bernardino Valley College and a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Fullerton. In her free time, Marie loves going to Disneyland, writing, playing ukulele and board games, and dancing.
Birthday in a Bag
The Children’s Foundation of America strives to provide an opportunity for every person to help children heal, learn and thrive. That is why we were so excited to hear from Michelle Panos, who learned about Birthday in a Bag, and made it a reality for foster youth.
Michelle got the idea after visiting the Family-To-Family website, a nonprofit focused on hunger and poverty relief for families. She decided to take on the project in her own way to support children in foster care.
Being a school teacher, she sees the impact of coming from a lower income situation can make. Because of this, she was looking for an organization to get involved with that supports children in need.
“When I found out that the Children’s Foundation of America works with foster children, I was ecstatic,” she said. “I have had several children that were in foster care in my classes over the last few years so I thought that this was perfect.”
The Birthday in a Bag donation will be given to resource parents at Michelle’s local foster care office: Trinity Youth Services, Rancho Cucamonga. The donation comes at the perfect time when we are showing our appreciation for local foster parents during National Foster Care Month. Every little thing helps a resource family do everything possible to help a child cope from trauma experienced before entering foster care. We celebrate foster parents for opening their heart and their home to care for a child in need and we are so grateful for people like Michelle who want to help make a foster parent’s role a little easier.
What’s in the Bag?
Each bag includes birthday party supplies such as a poster, streamers, balloons, candles, cake mix, frosting, a present and a book! Michelle is an elementary school teacher and we are so glad she included a book for each child to read.
How to Help
There are many ways to help children in need! Some donate time by volunteering, some donate funds for scholarships or yearbooks and some have the desire to find a unique way that suits them best. All these efforts help make a difference in the lives of children who need to be shown a little compassion.
Carrie Palmer, Development Specialist
Carrie oversees the day-to-day operations and staffing of the Foundation. Among her many tasks, she is responsible for seeking out and applying to grants for the Foundation as well as overseeing fundraising events and donations. Above all, Carrie’s focus is to identify and access resources in order to help children heal, learn and thrive. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of San Diego in 2001 and a master’s degree in public administration at Cal Poly Pomona in 2005. Carrie enjoys spending much of her time with her family and, when given the opportunity, jumps at the chance to travel the world with her mother and daughter.