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GUEST COLUMN: A birthday gift that lasts

Published on

Nicole Strampel

Your child quickly exits the school bus and runs up the driveway waving an envelope in her hand: “MOM! I GOT INVITED TO JULIE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY!”

Your heart sinks when you realize your first thought was, “Great, another expense.”

In a materialistic society, the birthday gift-buying process can be stressful. Will the child like it? Does she already have one? Will he receive duplicates? How much should I spend? How long will it be played with before it is added to an ever-growing toy heap in a playroom?

Last year, the junior kindergarten students at Sarnia Christian School hosted birthday parties in a way that reduced the gift-buying stress. Many students asked for donations to local charities, or a small monetary token (toonie), so the birthday child could purchase one larger gift to remember the occasion.

My twin children turned four last November and we hosted a party of 12 kids at our house. In lieu of gifts, guests were requested to bring a donation for the Inn of the Good Shepherd.

After the party we, as a family, went to the Inn to deliver the non-perishable food items. We had already explained to our children that there are many people in Sarnia who do not have enough food, toys or clothes, so they were eager to use their birthday celebration to bless others.

They were able to recognize they do not need everything they want, and that there are people who just want to have everything they need.

Another child hosted a birthday party, and asked that the guests bring a $5 donation for the Humane Society. The birthday girl then went out with the money and purchased toys to bless the pets at the animal shelter.

Another J/K student requested that a monetary donation be brought so she could put the money together to bless her sponsor child with a bicycle, through the Compassion Canada agency, to help the child get to school.

Being a blessing to others and developing a heart of gratitude is a gift that will hopefully never break down, require software updates or battery charging.

If you are interested in hosting a “blessing birthday party” for your child, there are many local charities that would benefit from your generosity.

For a list of some in the Sarnia-Lambton area, visit www.sarnialambtongives.ca.

Nicole Strampel is a Sarnia mom of twins, a boy and a girl




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