Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

This Mom Started A Charity To Make Sure Homeless Kids Get Birthday Parties

Imagine being 11 years old and never having had a birthday party thrown for you. I think by the time I was 11, I was pretty thoroughly spoiled. Not over-the-top, mind you, but my folks certainly never let the big day go past without a blast.

All too many kids out there haven't been able to have a proper birthday party, however. And one thing you can say for sure, whatever the reason, it wasn't their fault. And they sure deserve to be celebrated at some point in their lives.

That's where Paige Chenault comes in.

Back in 2008, Paige Chenault was pregnant and dreaming about throwing her child's first birthday party.

Facebook | The Birthday Party Project

She can recall flipping through magazines and getting some ideas for how it might look, when she turned to an article that "featured a little boy in Haiti and he had no shirt on, no shoes on his feet, sunken eyes, a bloated belly, and I had this overwhelming feeling, and all I could think was, 'What about him?' In this moment, I literally had a fire in my belly, a punch in my gut," she told Parents.

By the time she got home, the kernel of an idea was forming in her head.

Facebook | The Birthday Party Project

She remembers telling her husband, "I feel like I should be celebrating children who might not otherwise feel celebrated and using all the resources we have to do this."

That's how The Birthday Party Project was born.

Of course, it all started out small, with Paige volunteering at a homeless shelter in her hometown of Dallas, where she started throwing monthly birthday parties for the kids there.

Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

But right from the first party, she knew she was onto something big, and she had it confirmed by an 11-year-old who approached her after the party and said, "Thank you, Ms. Paige. This is the first birthday party I've ever had."

Four years later, in 2012, Paige made it official, founding The Birthday Party Project.

Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

That initial kernel has blossomed into something huge, as they throw monthly birthday parties in 15 cities around the nation at homeless shelters that they partner with.

It's all quite magical, from the volunteer "birthday enthusiasts" who plan and host the parties to the kids themselves.

Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

"A lot of these children don't know how to blow out a candle or even make a wish," Paige told Today.

But each of them gets an opportunity to do so, with their own personal-size cake, as well as a party hat, badge, and they end the day with a wrapped present worth about $30.

It's important to remember that The Birthday Party Project relies entirely on volunteers and donations.

Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

"I'm so proud of grassroots efforts, and I think that is what's so powerful about The Birthday Party Project," Paige says. "From the beginning, we just used the resources we had at our disposal. Truly, people just rallied around this idea and showed up ready to celebrate kids."

"It's a mind-blowing experience," one mother told Today.

Instagram | @thebirthdaypartyproject

"Coming from such pain and trauma, it's so nice to be able to relax for a minute, take a breather and to see that smile back on my child's face. I have no words to describe the happiness and joy that I am feeling."

And that's what it's all about for Paige, that smile on the child's face.

Facebook | The Birthday Party Project

"My goal is that each child feels something that lets them know how important they are, how much they matter," she said. "They deserve to be celebrated, that in this moment of chaos in their life, this moment of confusion, that there is light and that there are people out there cheering for them."

h/t Parents, Today

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