Kids these days: They’re a generous bunch. We get a thrill every time we hear about a birthday boy or girl using his or her special day to make someone else feel special. If your child is in the giving mood on his next big day, help turn his party into a charity event by recruiting party-goers to donate gifts, volunteer or craft up a storm. To make it easy, we gathered 19 of our favorite causes. Pick one that speaks to you, and get to giving.
Let your child choose a cause and invite your guests to collect the goods. Some organizations will help you help them by offering birthday kits and clubs.
Organization: Buckner International
Cause: Shoes for Orphans Souls — a program providing new shoes and socks to vulnerable children in the U.S. and throughout the world.
How you can help: Sign up online for the Birthday Club to gain access to a party kit including printable invites, birthday banners, games, puzzles and more. Request new shoes and socks from guests, and then ship or hand-deliver your loot to the Buckner Center for Humanitarian Aid at 5405 Shoe Drive in Mesquite; hours are 8:30am–4:30pm Monday–Saturday. Kids will receive a thank-you letter and certificate upon delivery. Call ahead to schedule a tour of the facility. The greatest need is for new athletic shoes, sizes youth 1 through adult 7.
Contact: 214/328-7463; shoesfororphansouls.org
Organization: Captain Hope’s Kids
Cause: Provides clothing and other basic necessities for homeless children across North Texas.
How you can help: Donate basic clothing, toys and other items. Urgent needs include diapers, baby formula, holiday toys, winter coats, school supplies and more. Gently used clothing and toys are accepted. Drop items at one of three Captain Hope’s Kids designated drop-offs. (Call ahead to ensure someone is in the office.)
Contact: For drop-off locations, call 866/887-1724 or visit captainhope.org
Organization: Children’s Medical Center Foundation
Cause: Offers world-class care to nearly 700,000 patients annually at pediatric hospitals in Dallas and Plano, specialty clinics and primary care MyChildren’s locations.
How you can help: Ask guests to bring games and toys for Children’s playrooms, or bring monetary donations. Then choose from a number of options in the hospital’s gift catalog. Red wagons, at $250 each, are used to transport kids to surgery. Donate online at give.childrens.com or drop off items in person to the Child Life department office at 1935 Medical District Drive in Dallas open 8am–5pm Monday–Friday.
Contact: 214/456-2285; give.childrens.com
Organization: Community Partners of Dallas
Cause: Provides resources for the caseworkers of Dallas County Child Protective Services.
How you can help: Help stock the Rainbow Room, a free boutique where CPS caseworkers shop for Dallas County children under state care. Needs include toddler clothing for boys and girls, toys, formula, diapers, books and birthday gifts for all ages. Only new, unused items are accepted. You can drop off donations Monday–Friday 8:00am–6pm at 1215 Skiles St., Dallas, but Community Partners recommends calling ahead to schedule an age-appropriate tour of the Rainbow Room and warehouse, as well as a photo op for the birthday boy or girl.
Contact: 214/624-7557; cpdtx.org
Organization: Covenant Kids
Cause: A private, non-profit child placing agency. Covenant Kids places children in temporary foster care and permanent adoptive homes statewide.
How you can help: Request new clothing or new and gently used backpacks. Visit the Covenant Kids website for the full wish list. Donations can be made 8:30am–5pm Monday–Thursday or 8:30am–4pm Friday at 2550 Beckleymeade Ave., Suite 100, Dallas or 710 E. Park Blvd., Suite 100, Plano.
Contact: 866/516-9100; covenantkids.org
Organization: Genesis Women’s Shelter
Cause: A Dallas shelter for battered women and their children.
How you can help: Request new, unopened toys for the girls and boys in Genesis’ shelter. Your child’s guests are welcome to add their own notes or cards for the children who will be receiving their gifts. Drop off the toys at Genesis’ Outreach Office at 4411 Lemmon Ave., Suite 201 in Dallas any time during operating hours: Monday–Thursday 9am–9pm and Friday 9am–5pm.
Contact: 214/389-7700; genesisshelter.org
Organization: Jonathan’s Place
Cause: Provides emergency shelter and specialized services to children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned.
How you can help: Collect shoes and pajamas of all sizes for the children at Jonathan’s Place (see their full needs list online). Or throw a party at a local kid-friendly venue — think: Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Zoo, Six Flags or Look Cinemas — and collect gift cards or tickets to that destination so the kids at Jonathan’s Place can enjoy an outing too. No trampoline parks or water parks, please. Drop off items or gift cards at the Hillcrest Foundation Donation Center at 6065 Duck Creek in Garland on Monday–Friday 9am–5pm.
Contact: 972/303-5303; jpkids.org
Organization: Meals on Wheels of Collin County
Cause: Delivers nutritionally-balanced meals to homebound seniors and disabled citizens.
How you can help: Meals on Wheels isn’t looking for traditional meals, but their stockpile of the nutritional shake Ensure is running low. Ask party guests to bring a 6-pack to help supplement the diets of local seniors, or hold a drive for other needed items like blankets, scarves and socks. Call ahead and bring the goods to Meals on Wheels headquarters at 600 N. Tennessee St. in McKinney on Monday–Friday 8:30am–5pm.
Contact: 972/562-6996; mowcc.com
Organization: Milk + Bookies
Cause: Seeks to build literacy skills in underprivileged children by facilitating book drives at private birthday parties, bookstore events, school book fairs and other events nationwide.
How you can help: To host a “book-raiser” at your child’s party, order a Bookies Box with bookmarks, balloons, “I donated” stickers and templates for DIY decorations. Evites encourage guests to bring new or gently used children’s books instead of gifts (hardcover books are preferred). Then choose any local nonprofit, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, and deliver the books. A list of suggested charities is online.
Contact: 323/863-5742; milkandbookies.org
Organization: Miracle Players Foundation
Cause: Raises funds to support pediatric cancer research at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and donates trunks full of children’s costumes, called Stars-in-a-Box, to oncology playrooms in hospitals across the country.
How you can help: Ask party guests to bring new costumes, accessories or hats for kids ages 4–10, or monetary donations. One hundred dollars supplies a trunk for one playroom, $300 for three playrooms and $500 for five playrooms.
Contact: 972/743-6416; miracleplayersfoundation.org
Organization: Operation Kindness
Cause: Food and supplies for homeless animals living in the largest and oldest no-kill animal shelter in North Texas
How you can help: Show your support for homeless animals by collecting food and supplies. Needs range from chew toys and Fancy Feast canned kitten food to paper towels and bleach. For Operation Kindness’ full wish list, visit operationkindness.org. Donations can be dropped off at Operation Kindness on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11am–5pm and on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm–7pm. Closed Tuesday. Located at 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton.
Contact: 972/418-7297; operationkindness.org
Organization: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Cause: Dallas-based hospital that has treated more than 225,000 children with orthopedic conditions, such as scoliosis, hip disorders and limb length differences, related neurological disorders and learning disorders.
How you can help: Ask party guests to bring books, games, craft supplies, toys or dolls to donate for Scottish Rite’s clinic waiting rooms and the Dr. Bob and Jean Smith Child Life Center. Look online for a complete list of their most urgent needs. Items can be dropped off in the main lobby at 2222 Welborn St. in Dallas, any time between 6am–9pm Monday–Friday and 8am–9pm Saturday–Sunday.
Contact: 214/559-7650; community.tsrhc.org
Make the big day unforgettable by learning about a local cause or doing a service project together, with your child and his friends leading the way.
Organization: SPCA of Texas
Cause: A community-funded, non-profit animal welfare organization serving North Texas.
How you can help: Celebrate your birthday at the SPCA. For $150 little animal lovers and friends can party hard at one of two SPCA locations: 2400 Lone Star Drive in Dallas or 8411 Stacy Road in McKinney. You bring the cake and snacks; the SPCA provides a presentation about caring for pets, a tour of the adoption center and an animal-themed craft or game, such as making bandanas for adoptable shelter animals. All proceeds benefit the humane education programs of the SPCA.
Contact: 214/461-1811; spca.org
Organization: The Birthday Party Project
Cause: Partners with local homeless shelters and transitional living facilities in Dallas and McKinney to throw birthday parties for kids.
How you can help: Celebrate the birthdays of underprivileged kids by inviting your child’s friends to help volunteers decorate and host themed birthday bashes, held monthly at each partner shelter. One adult per two kids is required; open to kids ages 2 and older.
Planning to have your own party at home? Share Your Birthday by asking guests to bring monetary donations, gifts or party supplies from The Birthday Party Project’s wish list in lieu of gifts. Items are accepted from 9am–3pm each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 4950 Keller Springs Road, Suite 470 in Addison. Volunteers 16 and older must pass a background check to participate.
Contact: 214/505-3046; thebirthdaypartyproject.org
Organization: Wee Volunteer
Cause: Partners with local nonprofits — including Meals on Wheels, homeless shelters, senior centers and outreach programs — to provide age-appropriate service projects for kids in preschool and elementary school.
How you can help: Does your child want to celebrate his or her birthday by helping to throw a party for an underprivileged child? Sign up to join the Wee Celebrate parties held monthly for kids at the Pebbles Apartments in the Vickery Meadows neighborhood of Dallas, or schedule a private party for a fee of $75 plus party supplies and a gift.
Any of Wee Volunteer’s service projects, which start at $10 per child, can be conducted as a private birthday party. Depending on your location, the Locomotion Party Bus can provide transportation for your family and guests from your home to the project location for $300.
Organization: Meals on Wheels of Dallas County
Cause: Delivers nutritionally-balanced meals to homebound seniors and disabled citizens.
How you can help: Start at The Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Center in Dallas to take a tour of the kitchen then break into groups of three kids per car to put a dent in the 4,000 meals Meals on Wheels dishes out every day. To kick it up a notch, rent a party bus so the kids can all deliver meals together in style. One route typically takes two hours to complete. You’re welcome to bring party supplies to the center for a pre- or post-meal delivery celebration. In a crafting mood instead? Meals on Wheels will provide the materials and space to make colorful placemats for their clients.
Contact: To coordinate party details, contact Kim Peters at 214/689-2210 or visit vnatexas.org.
Got a crafty kid? Let your child and her party-goers unleash their creativity to make cards and gifts for people in need.
Organization: Heroes for Children (HFC)
Cause: Provides financial and social assistance to families with children battling cancer statewide.
How you can help: Join the Superheroes Birthday Club to throw a party benefitting Heroes for Children. HFC will provide mailing cards and branding for the party, plus a membership card for the birthday boy or girl. Your child and his guests can make get-well cards or goodie bags for patients, then drop them off at the HFC offices in Richardson, where your Superhero will get a big welcome and thank-you.
Contact: 214/256-5824; heroesforchildren.org
Organization: Operation Write Home
Cause: Sends letters and coloring pages to soldiers stationed away from home.
How you can help: Have kids write letters, make their own cards or complete coloring pages to brighten the days of soldiers stationed far away. Download coloring pages at operationwritehome.org or let kids free-form using fingerpaints and foamies, stickers and more (no glitter.) After the cake has been cut, ship the goodies to Operation Write Home.
Contact: For guidelines and shipping information, visit operationwritehome.org
Organization: Project Linus
Cause: Provides blankets for children in local hospitals and shelters and children of fallen soldiers across Dallas-Fort Worth.
How you can help: Host a mass knot-tying party to make one or more no-sew fleece blankets out of colorful, kid-friendly fabric. Help your child choose the fabric (at least 1 ¼ yards) in advance, cut 4–6-inch squares from the corners and slits of matching length around the edges for fringe, and then let the party guests tie things up. Before you get started, read the guidelines and directions on the local chapter website — otherwise, the blankets won’t be used.