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Early childhood center celebrates its 50th by connecting families in need with birthday celebrations

Prairie Early Childhood Center
Posted at 11:53 AM, May 03, 2024

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — *Update* - Since this story aired, Prairie Early Childhood Education Center (PECC) raised $4500 through its carnival fundraiser for Birthday Connections! The $4500 includes a $500 donation from its church congregation.
Blessings Abound, a philanthropic thrift store near 105th and Metcalf heard about the carnival fundraiser and donated $500 as a matching gift towards the fundraiser for Birthday Connections. Because of this fundraiser, 76 birthdays will be able to be held for children and their families.

Last August, KSHB 41 highlighted Birthday Connections, a fairly new organization that helps marginalized families celebrate their child's birthday.

The organization provides parents with a number of different items to celebrate a birthday: a cake, wrapping paper, birthday card and an opportunity for parents to shop for their own child.

“Every kid deserves to be recognized and celebrated on their birthdays and for the marginalized families that we work with," founder Benita Webber told KSHB 41 news reporter Claire Bradshaw last August. "That's not always an opportunity, whether it's financial situation, mental health, whatever it may be."

The Prairie Early Childhood Center (PECC) Director Becky Humphrey saw the story and wanted to see how she and families at the center could contribute to Birthday Connections.

"I was immediately excited about their mission to provide birthday parties for low-income children in the Kansas City area," Humphrey stated. "I also thought this would be such a great organization for my center, PECC, to partner with in celebration of our birthday by helping to provide birthday parties for children."

PECC is celebrating 50 years this year, and decided to host a carnival fundraiser to benefit Birthday Connections and its mission.

"Our goal is to provide 50 birthday parties. I'm so excited, that we started our sales on Monday and we already have collected enough money for 26 birthday parties, so we're a little more than half way towards our goal and that's just with donations from our very generous families who are such a blessing to us and now we're such a blessing to the Kansas City community," Humphrey said. "I just feel like it's so important to give back. When you are blessed with so many things, God says I've blessed you in order to be a blessing."

Webber says it gave her cold chills hearing the news.

"I mean I had no idea that they were sponsoring each one of our kids, it's 50 kids," Webber said with excitement. "That's a lot of children and I'm just so grateful and appreciative and just overwhelmed."

For Humphrey, the organization connected with her on a personal level.

"Our two older children are adopted through foster care and our oldest son, Dean, just turned 3. [He] had his third birthday three weeks after coming to our home and I remember the agency, saying, 'If you want us to, we can do the birthday party' and as the parent, I was like 'Oh that's something I want to do, I want to give to my child,' and that was one of the things that I loved about Birthday Connections, is it gives that dignity to the parents and also just that understanding that parents want to do for their children, even when sometimes when they don't have the financial resources to do that."

Since the organization was founded, Birthday Connections has helped provide 250 birthdays. Its goal this year is 540.

"We're working with about nine social services agencies to identify those families," Webber said. "We also have a waiting list of agencies of more children than what we can celebrate at the moment. We have well over 1,000 kids on that waiting list through those agencies and we know that's just the tip of the iceberg."

Webber says her goal is to take more children off the waiting list and more celebrations, so children can feel the impact of being loved, celebrated and seen.

To learn more about Birthday Connections, click here.