When Paige Chenault, an event planner from Dallas, was reading about children’s birthday parties, she could not help but get really excited due to the fact she was pregnant and expecting her first child. While reading through various articles, she came across the image of a child from Haiti. His live was clearly not the greatest, as he looked horrifically underfed. Paige realised that this child, and countless other like him, would not be able to celebrate their birthdays in a fun and exciting way that most kids get to. “It just sort of hit me. This kid will never feel celebrated like I could celebrate my daughter,” she said. “I could do a lot of things for my kid, but I want to do it in a greater way with a bigger purpose.”
This was when she founded the charity ‘The Birthday Party Project’, with the aim of helping homeless children celebrate their birthdays throughout her home state of Texas. It turned into a resounding success, and has since spread to several cities throughout the US, including New York City and Chicago to name a few. Faculties that provide shelter for homeless children or those transitioning between homes are visited by the charity and its volunteers, with the aim to provide a fun part and celebrations for the kids who happen to have birthdays on that particular month. The children more often than not come from troubled backgrounds and have rarely or never experienced such festivities. “A lot of these children don’t know how to blow out a candle or even make a wish,” Chenault said.
Each party involves lots of fun and games, including various entertainments such as music and dancing. Each child will get a special party hat, cake and gift worth around $30. Every month also holds a special theme, with the most recent month of October being Halloween themed. The parties cost vary, and are made possible through donations made to the charity, which is carried out through the tireless work of the many kind-hearted volunteers. “My goal is that each child feels something that lets them know how important they are, how much they matter,” Chenault 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.”
Photos by Thisbe Grace Photography