While most kids are anxiously anticipating their annual round of birthday gifts, a local elementary school is stepping up for a cause that allows their students to give funds to premature babies rather than receiving gifts.
Third graders at Monrovia Elementary school have stepped alongside Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children to take part in their Birthday Club. This program gives the children’s party guests the opportunity to purchase items or send monetary donations for the Neonatal ICU or Pediatric Unit in honor of the birthday child.
“Our first reading unit focuses on spending, earning and saving money. I thought this was a great opportunity to introduce the students to another option of how to use their money: giving. Mrs. Cagle had mentioned coming to speak to my class about the program before and I thought it fit in perfectly with this unit of study. I want the students to learn the importance of giving back to their community,” third grade teacher Amy Atchley said.
Sarah Cagle, a representative from Huntsville Hospital and a friend of Atchley’s, presented this opportunity to the third graders. Most of the students are familiar with Huntsville Hospital which is another reason why the project will connect her students with others by serving the community.
“The birthday boy or girl can decide whether they want to ask their friends to bring monetary donations and/or gift donations like games and toys. Some of our Birthday Club members have asked friends to give toys, baby blankets, and diapers. Other members have asked their friends to give monetary donations and really enjoy knowing the exact dollar amount they were able to contribute. Either form of donation is a fun experience for the child,” Cagle said.
Cagle’s role is to raise awareness about the club and to assist children and parents with the requesting and receiving aspect of donations. She hosts Birthday Club member tours and donation presentations.
One of the MES third graders has already taken the initiative to help out. Morgan Templet planned and conducted a lemonade stand at her family’s yard sale. She raised $22.50 to contribute to the Birthday Club.
“When Mrs. Cagle came to my school, she showed us pictures and passed around things. She showed us a diaper that was a preemie’s and was maybe the size of my thumb. I thought if I donate some money, maybe I can help save one or two babies. If there is something that helps other people you should try and do it. Even if you don’t get a lot of money, it still helps,” Templet said.
The Birthday Club, born in 2007, is growing at a rapid rate. The sole intention of the club is to help sick and injured patients as they cope with their hardships with the hope and familiarity of toys and birthday gifts.
“Anyone can be a member of the Birthday Club! First, they need to talk to their parents about their birthday party and what hospital department they wish to support. Then, they need to include a note with their party invitations to let their friends and family know that they wish to collect donations to the hospital instead of receiving presents.
Next, the parent should contact me at the Foundation to discuss the details, such as what department their child would like to support, and when they would like to visit the hospital to present their donations. Once the student delivers their party donations to the Foundation, they become an official member of the Huntsville Hospital Birthday Club for an entire year,” Cagle said.