ST. LOUIS - When you're a kid, there's nothing quite like it. The cake. The presents. The noise. Is there any day you looked forward to more than your birthday? Well for some kids life is no party.
"Unfortunately on her actual 15th birthday she became homeless," Beth Brockling said.
Brockling is talking about Shalei Taylor, her little sister through the organization Big Brothers Big Sisters. Things became so desperate, for her 15th birthday Shalei and her family slept in the car.
"So I went to my friends on Facebook and said 'hey can anyone help me just give her a little bit of comfort on her birthday?'" Brockling recalled.
Her friends gave from the heart and Beth gave Shalei a party. It turned out to be an invitation to so much more.
"I said you know there's a lot of kids going without birthdays," Brockling remembered.
Thus began Sweet Celebrations, a non-profit that throws birthday parties for kids in homeless shelters. When the organization first started, they were celebrating a birthday here and a birthday there. Now it's up to 300 birthdays a year.
"She has a giver's heart," volunteer Kimberly McNally said. "She's just willing to go above and beyond to make these kids happy on their birthday."
With help from volunteers, Sunday at the Gateway 180 shelter, Beth put on two parties-- one for 4-year-old Ashton and another for his 11-year-old brother, Martrell.
Martrell told us it feels "good" to have a birthday party thrown in his honor.
"A lot of work goes into these parties," said volunteer Marlena Lee. "We have party planning that we do once a month."
And remember Shalei, the reason this all started? Well, she and her family are back on their feet and she sees Beth all the time. In fact, Shalei helps plan all the parties as a Sweet Celebrations volunteer.
"It makes me happy," Shalei said. "Because I can sit there throw parties for these kids who are homeless knowing that I was actually in the same boat and somebody cared enough to do it for me."
Little celebrations with a big impact and one woman's faith that in the end, a birthday is really a new beginning.
"It just touches my heart," Lee said. "It really does."
For more information on Sweet Celebrations, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call them at 314-387-0395 or write to them: PO Box 884 O'Fallon, MO 63366.
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