KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For some families, celebrating a birthday can actually be a privilege.
Birthday Connections is a Kansas City nonprofit. Its mission is to “empower marginalized families with dignity and resources to celebrate their childrens' birthday in a meaningful way.”
Founder Benita Webber saw a need for this when she was looking for volunteer opportunities, prompting her to start Birthday Connections. She works with agencies, like KC Heroes —organization that helps the homeless and recently housed — to find families to help. From there, she provides the family with a cake or cookies, a birthday card, wrapping paper and gives them the opportunity 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, that's not always an opportunity,” Webber said. “Whether it's financial situation, mental health, whatever it may be, and there just needs to be a safety net for this to make sure that kids feel loved and celebrated and recognized in the community.”
Chef Daniel Hogan donates the cakes and cookies. He works at Manuel Career Technical Center and bakes in his off time. When Webber contacted Hogan for donations, he wanted to do more.
“All the birthdays I had growing up… we didn't always have presents, but we always had cake and ice cream for birthdays,” Hogan said. “This is something that I want to be part of — just because one: I love cake, and two: it's a great organization. It was a great concept. I love helping others. I love giving back to the community. So it was just a perfect fit.”
Melanie Mullen works with KC Heroes to take the supplies from Benita and delivers them to the families.
“I get to see how happy the families are and then I get to hear back or get pictures. ‘This is her opening her gifts today and she was so excited,' and it just gives them a little bit more of a feeling of being normal, and normality and that life can go on and it's good and you can overcome struggles,” Mullen said.
Birthday Connections is about to help its 100th child celebrate their birthday. It is in need of donations to keep the party going. If you want to donate or learn more, visit the organization's website.