"Wild for World Vision! That’s what I am, and that was the theme of my 13th birthday party this year!"
Emily Hadigian turned 13 in January. But this year, she wanted to use the gift-giving part of her birthday celebration as a donation to World Vision, using it to help change the world.
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Ever since I can remember, our family has sponsored a child through World Vision. Over the years, I have written letters to our sponsored children, helped my mom with her volunteer work as a Child Ambassador (someone who helps find sponsors for children living in communities where World Vision is working), and, most exciting of all, visited one of our sponsored children in Guatemala this past year!
The older I get, the more I realize how blessed my family is. This year, I thought it would be awesome to celebrate my birthday by raising money to donate items through the World Vision Gift Catalog. My inspiration for that idea came mostly from my little brother, Luke.
For his ninth birthday party this past year, Luke decided that instead of receiving gifts, he wanted his party guests to bring money to be donated to our sponsored child, Ivan, from Uganda. Ivan has the exact same birth date as Luke, so Luke wanted to celebrate both of their birthdays. Luke loves carnivals and amusement parks, so he set up his own carnival-themed birthday party. He asked everyone to bring $10 to buy a ticket to his carnival, with all the money going to Ivan as a donation.
Altogether, Luke’s carnival party raised $170 to send to Ivan and his family!
When it came time for my party, some of my friends were more excited about the donation idea than others. Some of them had never seen a World Vision Gift Catalog. However, once they realized the ways we could help other kids with the collected money, everyone got really into it! I stood on a kitchen chair with a clipboard, while all my friends looked through the catalogs and called out items they thought we should donate.
It was fun trying to include everyone’s ideas into our budget. After we finalized the list of items we would donate with the collected money, my friends cheered as I shouted out each item one by one! It was so fun! Then we celebrated the rest of the evening by eating ice cream cake, dancing in the dark with glow sticks, solving a pretend mystery, and staying up really late!
The money raised at my party, as well as a few donations given to me later that week, was enough to provide five fruit trees; safety for a formerly exploited child; clothes and shoes for kids; lifesaving medicine; two mosquito nets; water purification tablets; and therapeutic food.
Plus, a family friend made a donation directly to World Vision to pay for birthday parties in communities where World Vision works.
Next year for our birthdays, Luke and I are planning on having World Vision parties again. It’s an awesome way to celebrate with our friends and get everyone involved with the excitement of helping children around the world.
I have also just begun to raise money for World Vision’s microloan program by selling items I am hand-sewing. I am making cool pillowcases in lots of colors and designs, as well as clothes for 18-inch dolls.
If I can raise $25 each month, I’ll be able to help people in other countries who need small business loans to support their families!
I would encourage other kids in America to make a difference in the world by celebrating their birthdays in ways that help others. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the idea caught on that the best and most meaningful way for friends and family to celebrate another year of someone’s life is by changing others’ lives in that person’s honor?
It’s great to think that by using just one part of our birthday celebration -- the gift giving part -- as a donation to World Vision, we can help serve Jesus and others in significant ways. So I would encourage all kids to go ahead and do what my brother and I did: use your birthday to help change the world!
Set up your own fundraising event and personalized webpage through World Vision's My Gift Catalog application. Then, invite others to donate life-changing gifts right on your page!
Or, make a life-changing addition to your own family: Sponsor a child today! For about $1 a day, your monthly gift will provide a child with access to lifesaving basics like clean water, nutritious food, education, healthcare, and more!