Seton Catholic School’s fourth-grade class put together a donation drive to support Volunteers of America’s Brightening Birthdays, a program that provides birthday celebrations for children staying at VOA’s guest house family shelter, at the suggestion of 10-year-old Nina DiMarco,.
The guest house is a 14-unit emergency family shelter that is one of two shelters in Rochester that allows families facing homelessness to stay together while seeking permanent affordable housing. Every month, Volunteers of America Upstate New York enlists the help of community volunteers to ensure that children staying at the guest house can have a birthday party.
After hearing about Brightening Birthdays, Nina brought the idea of a donation drive to the attention of her teacher, Ms. Fragale, which later led to the class project. The class created posters to put up around the school, and a flyer that went home to all parents for donations such as party decorations, snacks, birthday cake, games and presents.
When a family is combatting homelessness, they do not always have the time or the means to provide a birthday for their children. Brightening Birthdays was started to take the pressure off the parents and allow their children to experience a birthday during this difficult time. Donations, such as those organized by Nina and Seton Catholic School, are key to the success of the program.