February Winter Olympic Party

Olympic Parties

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Let the games begin!  In tandem with the actual Winter Olympics, we had a blast competing in our own Olympic games throughout our February parties.  At these celebrations we were reminded that we all have our own unique, individual talents and we are special.

We also had a HUGE, exciting event happen in February.  For those of you who don’t know, late last year, Ms. Megs met a little girl named Becky, a youth in the foster care system.  When Becky arrived at her birthday party, she was wearing clothing that was at least two sizes too small.  Becky had been sent to a foster home the week prior, but had returned to the facility by the time of the birthday party.  For both these moves, her belongings had been packed into trash bags – and most of her possessions didn’t return in the shuffle.

From this, Megs got her inspiration for our sixth program, The Beverly’s Birthdays Boutique! This is a mobile fashion truck, which will be outfitted with new/never worn clothing, jewelry, and accessories.

In February, we were able to acquire the vehicle that will help bring this program to fruition!

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As exciting as this news is, we still have a long way to go to get this program up and running.  We need to add our Beverly’s Birthdays style design and decorations to the truck, obtain the clothing and product to fill the vehicle and ensure the financial and in-kind sustainability of the boutique.  We have secured some clothing already thanks in large part to American Eagle and Delivering Good, but we still have a ways to go.  You can help us out here.  Keep a look out for updates and more information about the Beverly’s Birthdays Boutique, and thank you to those who have supported this initiative so far!

One person who will have a big hand in our truck re-vamping, is our in-resident seamstress and newest employee:

IMG_3466Name: Melissa Heid

Title: Inventory and Operations Program Manager

Office spirit animal: Flamingo

Melissa is a Pittsburgher, through and through. Although she was adopted into the Beverly’s Birthdays family in August, she has already taken over the toy shop, made it into her own personal dollhouse (fitting, as she personally collects Barbies), and continues to be a confident, courageous woman who spreads cheer and happiness on a daily basis (She was a girl scout for 13 years!). Outside of work, Melissa likes to bake and sew.  Lookout for her at your next Zumba class!

Birthday Party Activities

Opening Ceremony

 

 

To open our February parties, we paraded and danced around the room at our very own opening ceremonies!  We picked what countries we wanted to represent (sometimes made up our own and designed our own flags to go with our country), and got our bodies up and moving.

Supplies:

We used this opportunity to talk about our favorite sports and activities, show off our dance moves, and practice sharing and passing the torch.

Olympic Ring Toss

 

 

This fun activity helped us work on our colors and our hand eye coordination.  We started out working individually, trying to land a marshmallow in whatever color ring our referee called out. We then moved to the team event, where together we tried to land a marshmallow in each colored circle as quickly as possible!

Supplies:

  • Olympic rings (Can also be made with pipe cleaners)
  • Mini marshmallows

Face the Cookie Race

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Supplies:

  • Oreos
  • faces

For this race, we placed one Oreo on every child’s forehead. They then had to move the Oreo from their forehead to their mouth, without using their hands! This was a silly fun game with guaranteed laughs and a yummy snack once the challenge was complete.

Olympic Ring (toddler activity)

 

 

As seen in previous posts, we love sorting and matching activities for our toddlers!  This provides a fun way to work on our counting and color skills as well as fine motor skills.

Supplies:

  • Fruit loops (can use m&ms, skittles, colored goldfish, etc)
  • Sorting sheet

Other Olympic Activities

 

 

Guess what time it is?! It’s EVENING OF BIRTHDAY CHEER time!!! You’re officially invited to Beverly’s Birthdays 6th birthday party. On Thursday April 19th, at PNC Park from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, join us to party with a purpose! All guests will enjoy with their ticket purchase unlimited ‘gourmet’ ballpark food, two drink tickets, fabulous silent and chance auctions, the ‘Build-a-Bin’ experience, and much more! Get your tickets here! Your support and attendance at An Evening of Birthday Cheer goes directly towards creating more birthday magic for children in-need. We hope to see you there!

Next month we will be discussing our emoji mania parties! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news and information about Beverly’s Birthdays!! Don’t forget #smilesmatter.

Birthday cheer,

Beverly’s Birthdays staff

January Art Parties

Art Parties

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Beverly’s Birthdays put the art in party to kick off the new year!  The art party theme unleashed the kids’ creativity and brought some bright colors and joy to the long, grey January days.

A new feature we are going to include in these monthly blogs is a Beverly’s Birthdays spotlight highlighting a member of the Beverly’s Birthdays cheer squad. We are going to start with our Beverly’s Birthdays employee family. First up is our newest recruit:

IMG_2893_previewName: Mallory Michalko

Title: Greatest Intern in the World

Office spirit animal: Panda Bear

Mallory is from Philadelphia, PA and currently attends University of Pittsburgh for Applied Developmental Psychology.  In her free time, she likes to volunteer at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, bake chocolate chip cookies, and watch reality television.

“For my third birthday we went to Disney World and we ate breakfast with Cinderella. Since then, I have loved anything and everything Disney, and that is my favorite birthday memory.”

Birthday Party Activities

Paint Your Own Canvas

 

For one of our January activities, we creatively engaged our kids by providing them their own canvas to paint. This not only allowed them to use their imagination to transform a blank slate into something magical, but also had the additional benefit of being a great take home favor from the party.

Supplies:

  • Canvases
  • Paint
  • Paint Brushes,
  • Napkins/paper towels
  • Plates
  • Water Cups

We placed a variety of different paint colors on the plates and filled the water cups. Every child received a paint brush, blank canvas, and napkin. They shared the paint plates and water cups to make their unique creations.

Create- a – Crown

For this fun activity, we got to wear our completed craft on our heads for the remainder of the party.  Peeling the backs off the stickers helps facilitate the toddlers’ neat pincer grasp development and bilateral hand coordination.

Supplies:

Every child got to choose what color crown they wanted. We placed all of the different sticker sheets in the middle of the table, and let them decorate away.  These particular crown kit stickers were in different shapes which provided a fun teaching/learning moment for the party attendees.  This activity also helped us work on our sharing skills, as we were sharing the sticker sheets.

Fruit Loop Color Sort Game

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We worked on our colors, counting and sorting skills for this game.  This activity not only physically enhances a child’s fine motor skills, but is also a beneficial cognitive development activity because the kids’ must identify and then classify objects based on similar or different characteristics.

Supplies:

Every child received a bowl of fruit loops and a sorting mat. They then placed the color fruit loop on the matching colored circle on their sorting mat.  Once they got the hang of that, we worked on counting how many fruit loops we had of each color.  As a prize for doing such a great job, we got to eat our fruit loops when we were all done!

Lots of excitement happening in February. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news and information about Beverly’s Birthdays!! Don’t forget #smilesmatter.

Birthday cheer,

Beverly’s Birthdays staff

Elf December

Elf December

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What a year 2017 turned out to be! We expanded our reach to new agencies in Pittsburgh, added additional staff members to our Beverly’s Birthdays family, received national exposure through numerous different media projects (including an NBC Nightly News spotlight!), and most importantly, we helped celebrate a bunch of deserving kids and let them know that they matter!

December was a huge donation drive month for us. Numerous organizations collected toys and party supplies on our behalf.

  • Negative: Our toy shop was looking barren heading into the holiday season. Think toy shop drought!IMG_3110
  • Positive: The shelves were so empty because we provided more presents last year than any other year before! As a sneak peak of our impact this past year, in 2016 we celebrated the births of 250 babies through our Itty Bitty Birthday Cheer program. In 2017 we celebrated 442 newborn babies!!

We not only achieved all of our 2017 programmatic goals, we blew them out of the water. Plus, thanks to these collections, our toy stock has been replenished enabling us to continue to provide awesome presents to our deserving kids!   This was possible all because of your support. Look out for our annual report in the near future to learn more about how many people we serviced and in what ways.

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CCChampion Camden and the presents he wrapped for Beverly’s Birthdays along with the birthday card he hand-made.

One of our favorite projects that happened throughout November and December was the Miracle on Smithfield Street campaign. We teamed up with CCChampions for a holiday donation drive. CCChampions is another local nonprofit that matches kids with cancer with an inspirational role model who supports them through all the transitions of the cancer journey. With support from The Grable Foundation, we invited downtown businesses to donate to our cause. The CCChampion kids then used the donations to purchase and wrap gifts for our Beverly’s Birthdays kids. We love seeing kids helping other kids and feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with two other amazing organizations! A special thanks to the Grable Foundation and the Burke Foundations for matching donations.

In other exciting news, we received our first shipment from Delivering Good. Throughout 2018, Delivering Good will provide us with a plethora of in-kind donations of an assortment of different products. In our first shipment, we received 36 pallets of legos… 36 PALLETS!! If this is any indication, we cannot wait to see what is in store in the coming year,

Birthday Party Activities

Elf Hats

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In December we got to design our own elf hats! This was an awesome creative outlet that allowed us to express our own unique style.

Supplies:

Everyone received a foam hat cut-out, fastener, and an assortment of stickers. They then got to decorate however they wanted! Some kids chose to write their name while others completely covered their hats with no foam showing through.

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We also got to make these super cute elf ornaments. Upon completing his, one of our birthday boys, Jay, informed us he would be hanging his on his bedroom doorknob.

Supplies:

The kids got to choose which elf they wanted to make. They then put together their elf, and wrote their name on the back with the Sharpie so everyone knew who’s elf belonged to who.

Additional Activities

Other News

  • Big thanks to our Champions of Cheer who created and implemented awesome projects to benefit Beverly’s Birthdays. We look forward to honoring these little champions at our annual luncheon on Saturday, January 20th.
  • There are still open volunteer opportunities for parties in January! Check out what’s available here.
  • Save the date! More information to come..
    • Evening of Birthday Cheer- April 19
    • Highmark Walk- May 12

Happy New Year to all! Here are some final thoughts on 2017 from our Founder and Co-Director Megs:

As we embark on a new year of spreading birthday cheer I just want to personally thank ALL OF YOU for the love, kindness, and support you continue to show us each and every year.

As I reflect on 2017 I can’t help but think of something my son Wyatt said – he said we should all “have a happy heart”.

I like to think that what we are doing each day, by spreading birthday cheer, is giving thousands of children and families the opportunity to have a piece of happiness in their heart. This is what matters – this is the hope, joy, and comfort these children deserve.

It is hard to believe that we have been doing this for 6 years and I am so excited to see what 2018 can bring.

It is a privilege, honor, and joy to wear the Cheer Captain hat and I thank all of you for believing that #smilesmatter

Gratefully yours,

Ms. Megs

 

 

One in a Minion

November Minion Parties!

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We had a lot to be thankful for in November. We were able to celebrate 84 birthdays at our 16 minion themed parties alone last month!  Also, at our first annual Great Birthday Bake, we welcomed kid bakers from all across Pittsburgh to compete in a cookie competition at The DoubleTree by Hilton Cranberry.  36 contestants competed across 5 different categories all in hopes of claiming the glory of being the overall best cookie champion.  A big congratulations to all of our contestants, and a special shout out to Kate Boyle who clinched the Overall Best Cookie title with her Santa’s Snickers Surprise!

FullSizeRThe Born This Way Foundation chose us as their Pittsburgh charity for The Channel Kindness Tour.  As a result, we had the opportunity to collect toys at the pre-party leading up to the Lady Gaga concert.  Even Lady Gaga’s mom Cynthia and Grandma Gaga brought us presents! A big thanks to Alex and the Born This Way Foundation team for all of their support.

Both of our co-directors had huge accomplishments in November. Ms. Megs attended the Stevie Awards in New York City where she received national acknowledgment for the great work she is doing, and Mr. Josh set up an all-time record of holiday toy drives for Beverly’s Birthdays, setting us up to continue to provide the most awesome birthday presents for our kids in 2018. Thanks to our fearless leaders for their continued passion, encouragement, and dedication to spreading cheer and letting every child in Pittsburgh know they matter.

Birthday Party Activities

Play Dough Minions

This month our kids enhanced their fine motor skills while using their imaginations to create their very own minions out of play dough! The results were truly one in a minion.

Supplies:

  • Assorted colors of play dough (lots of yellow)
  • googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners
  • Make some minion mats (optional)

Every child received a plate with an assortment of play dough, googly eyes, small pieces of pipe cleaners, and were let loose to create the minion of their dreams. Some modeled their minions after characters from the movie while others made 9 eyed, 3 eared masterpieces.

Minion Bingo

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There are few things our kids enjoy more than screaming BIIIINNNGGOOOO at the top of their lungs and picking out a prize from the prize bag. This particular bingo game was especially challenging because all of the minions looked very similar to the other. We had a great time trying to act out the minions being called.

Supplies:

This a great game that not only is fun but encourages collaboration and healthy competition. We love seeing our older kids help the younger ones find and mark the correct pictures during this game.

Additional Activities

Other News

  • Shout out to all of our supporters contributing to the 27 toy drives currently IMG_3166being completed in honor of Beverly’s Birthdays!
  • Thank you to the Pirates Charities for making our program manager Melissa’s dream of meeting Bell and Cervelli come true!
  • We are still hoping to make our dream of the Beverly’s Birthdays’ Boutique a reality. Please check out https://www.gofundme.com/fashion-truck-for-homeless-children to learn more and consider making a donation.
  • All of our January volunteer opportunities are posted. Join us in 2018 by signing up HERE.

WE ARE EXPANDING! In the new year we are adding 10 additional agencies. This not only means many more volunteer opportunities including cupcake bakers, treat bag makers, and more, but most importantly more deserving kids receiving love on their birthday!

Finally, we want give our sincerest thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Beverly’s Birthdays magic that happened in 2017. You are truly the heart of our organization and we could not do what we do without you. Thank you, happy holidays, and we can’t wait to see what the new year has in store! #smilesmatter

Birthday cheer,

Beverly’s Birthdays staff

October Parties

The Land of Cheer in October

October was a busy month for the land of cheer.  Not only did we get to celebrate our birthday kiddos at our Skeleton Soirees, but we also got to party with expectant moms (and a new week old baby!) at two Lovebug baby showers!

Another exciting event that happened in October was our Champions of Cheer kick-off.  For those of you that don’t know, Champions of Cheer is a youth leadership development training which culminates with each young leader designing and implementing a fundraising project in their community benefiting Beverly’s Birthdays. This is one of our favorite volunteer projects of the year because we get to see kids helping other kids through their own creative, inspired ideas!

One way kids, and adults alike are able to give back year round is through our Birthday Give-Back program.  Countless people have turned their own birthday into an opportunity to help others. Typically participants of this program invite guests to bring needed Beverly’s Birthdays items or monetary donations to their own celebration in lieu of personal presents. We provide downloadable promotional materials including:

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all in preparation for the celebration. This idea stemmed from Miss Megs.  When she heard Beverly had never had a birthday celebration, she said would have given up all 26 of her celebrations if it meant Beverly and other kids would feel acknowledged and special on their birthday.  This program is also awesome because there is room for individual creativity. If you want to use your birthday to give back and have a different idea on how you want to do it, great! Some other ideas on how to do this:

  • Create an online fundraising page with Beverly’s Birthdays as the nonprofit the fundraiser is benefitting
  • Hire Fairytale Princess Visits for your event. They donate a part of the proceeds from every Fairytale Princess Visit to us!
  • order catering for your party from Moe’s southwest Grill! Moe’s has a Buy One Give One program where they donate food for one of our parties for every party someone uses their catering for.

Quick shout-out to all of you, THANK YOU land of cheer for your support! Our volunteers and donors are the heart of our organization and without them, we would not be able to fulfill our mission.  As we continue to expand and grow, our support base does as well.  We are continually overwhelmed by the generosity and love our supporters share with the kids and families we service.

Birthday Party Activities

Wooden Skeletons

This month our main activity was designing and painting wooden skulls! We always say our parties are contained chaos, but painting is one activity that our kids will sit down, focus and take their time on, painting their own unique creations.

Supplies:

  • Wooden skulls
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Plates
  • Water cups
  • Napkins/ wet wipes

Every child received a plain wooden skull, a paint brush, water cup, and paint.  We unleashed the kids’ imaginations and the results were awesome!  Some kids made pretty, sugar skull looking masterpieces while others made bloody zombie skeletons, and everything in between.

Skull Magnets

 

Another craft the kids’ especially liked this month was making skull magnets. This activity also encouraged creativity as the kids were just given a blank skeleton head and a bunch of sticker options, and they got to choose how they wanted to make their face.

Supplies:

This craft is a great option for all ages because there are few supplies needed and self-adhesive stickers make for minimal cleanup.

Additional Activities

Lovebug Baby Showers

Three times a year we are lucky enough to throw baby showers to help our expectant moms celebrate their new babies. These parties are a change in atmosphere from our chaotic kids birthday parties, but fun in their own unique way. These baby showers include food catered by Moe’s Southwest Grill, baby shower games, awesome prizes, and of course cupcakes!

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This month’s baby shower theme was lovebug! We played lovebug bingo, lovebug baby babble, and lovebug price is right game.  All of our moms walked away with an itty bitty bin in preparation and celebration of their little lovebug.

*Big thanks to Jasmine Cho, owner of Yummyholic who donated these awesome cookies as party favors for the guests.

Other News

  • Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and Star 100.7 have partnered with us to throw a pre-party toy collection before her concert on Monday November 20th!  We will be collecting toys at the pre-party at the Cambria Hotel and Suites and the whole time leading up to the start of her show!
  • Shout-out to South Fayette Elementary and Middle Schools for completing an awesome toy drive for us.  They donated over $10,000 worth of new toys and $2500 worth of party supplies.
  • Congrats to our very own Miss Megs who was recently celebrated as one of Pittsburgh’s 40 under 40 honorees!

As we head into the holiday season, our Co-Director Josh is super busy setting up holiday drives to re-stock our barren toy shelves. If you or your company is interested, please email getinvolved@beverlysbirthdays.org! Also November’s minion-themed parties are sure to result in some great photos so make sure to check back here next month. #smilesmatter

Birthday cheer,

Beverly’s Birthdays staff

September Seuss Spectacular

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“Today you are you! That is truer than true!

There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”

For all of our September birthdays we partied Dr. Seuss style!  This month’s theme in particular is near and dear to the Beverly’s Birthdays staff.  As Dr. Seuss once said, “You never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”  Through our celebrations, we hope to create moments that turn into lifelong happy memories for our children and families.

In providing birthday celebrations for homeless children and families in need, we interact with lots of people who are facing tough hardships.  Because of their circumstances, both parents and kids feel constant stress which results in negative health outcomes including higher risk for anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.  We aim to relieve them of some of their worries while we take a moment to pause from daily life and just party! Seuss Invitation

Research indicates that healthy self-esteem exists when we believe that we are valued, competent, worthy, admired, and accepted. Through our programs, the children we serve gain confidence and feel worth because of the attention Beverly’s Birthdays party staff gives them.

One question we get asked a lot is why do birthdays matter?  As our Co-Director Josh likes to explain, think back to your childhood and tell us what your typical day looks like? We bet you can’t, but if we ask about your favorite birthday memory, most of us can come up with an answer.  As one of our kids reasoned, “the great thing about birthdays is that you get one just for being yourself.”  You don’t have to earn it in any way, everyone is special and deserves their own special day to feel like they matter because they do. Birthdays matter, smiles matter.

Party Activities

“Fox In Socks”

If you are looking for a fun craft to do with kids of all ages, then this Dr. Seuss craft is a great option!  You only need a few supplies, and by the end of the party your little foxes will be able to rock their own unique socks.

Creative opportunities are not only fun for kids, but important for their self-expression and mental development.  They are able to try out different ideas and implement their own unique visions.

Supplies:

  • Plain white socks
  • Fabric markers/Sharpies

Every child received a pair of plain white socks and markers.  We intentionally didn’t provide any prompt on how to decorate their blank canvas, and the results did not disappoint!  Every child had their own distinct, special design that showcased their amazing imaginations.  Some of the children turned their socks into puppets, while others asked for a larger size to make them into a present for their sibling or parent.

“Hop on Pop”

After we got the creative juices flowing and the brain grooving, we wanted to get the kids’ bodies up and moving.

Physical activity is beneficial for people of all ages, but particularly for young children because it helps promote healthy growth and development including gross and fine motor skills. (Look out for more information on this next month!)

Supplies:

  • 1/2″ (large) bubble, bubble wrap

We led the kids through a series of  variations on how to progress through the bubble wrap line! (hop on two feet, hop on one foot, you can only use your elbows, etc.)

“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”

For some of our younger demographic, we used everyone’s favorite fish snack to help the kids along their Pre-K track.

Matching and sorting activities through play help children to begin to learn math concepts, enhance and support cognitive development, and practice their fine motor skills.

Supplies:

Every child received a pack of rainbow goldfish and printable. We first had them sort the fish into their correctly colored goldfish bowl. We then had the kids complete the patterns. After we completed both sheets, we got to eat our fishies.

Other Dr. Seuss Activities

 

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More Fun

Shout-out to all of our awesome volunteers! This month we saw lots of creativity from our cupcake bakers. Here are a few of our favorites:

 

Other News

  • We had a HUGE opportunity to have a spotlight on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Thursday, September 21st. Watch the clip here!
  • October’s theme is skeleton soiree. There are still volunteer opportunities available.
  • The Great Birthday Bake (a kid’s cookie baking competition) application is now live. If you or anyone you know is interested in entering, attending, or learning more check it out!

Next month we will be discussing our skeleton soirees, lovebug baby showers, and how you can use your birthday to give back! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news and information about Beverly’s Birthdays!! Don’t forget #smilesmatter.

Birthday cheer,

Beverly’s Birthdays staff

5 Years of Cheer!

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Greetings from the Land-of-Cheer!

We are filled with joy and excitement as we head into the Spring season! At the end of April, we will be returning to PNC Park to celebrate our fifth birthday as an organization!! We cannot help but take this time to reflect on what all has been done since our inception…

If you have ever been to a Beverly’s Birthday party, you know first-hand the happiness our organization is able to produce. What you might not know however, is how much your support means to us and to what extent it has made an impact! For this reason, we are going to walk you through our accomplishments, just in this PAST YEAR (2016).

Check it out!!

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123 GROUP BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS!

Beverly’s Birthdays is best known for the birthday celebrations we host at our 50+ partnering agencies. There’s no question as to why either…this is truly the most fun program we run! Each month, we host anywhere from 10-15 parties throughout the Pittsburgh region. Every month is celebrated in a different theme as well! Program Managers, Martina and Kate, go into each party knowing that while there is a typical party-format, ANYTHING is fair game. We have had spontaneous dance parties, minute-to-win-it face offs, tons of crafts, face painting, special guest appearances, party games and more! Top that off with delicious food, catered by MOE’S Southwest Grill, birthday cupcakes, treat bags and gifts, and you have an unforgettable evening.

We like quote our good friend, Dr. Seuss – “You never know the true value of a moment, until it becomes a memory”. This is exactly why we do what we do…Our goal is to create positive memories that will last a lifetime.

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1,557 CHEER BINS

Our Cheer Bin program takes a close second to the parties in terms of popularity. Who wouldn’t be excited to receive a physical bin filled with “CHEER”!? If you haven’t had the opportunity to assemble a cheer bin before, it is essentially our version of an amped-up birthday gift. Each bin we put together has an age appropriate reading book, coloring/activity book, crayons, tooth brush, tooth paste, snacks, candy and other miscellaneous goodies. We pair each bin with one large item requested by the child. While we don’t get the privilege of seeing every child open their birthday cheer bin package, when we do…it is PURE-JOY!

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1,252 BIRTHDAY IN A BAGS

Our Birthday in a Bag program is perhaps the most popular amongst our volunteer groups. It’s a great opportunity to collect, assemble and be creative with your service work! If you are unfamiliar with this program, it is exactly what it sounds like: we create a BIRTHDAY and put it in a BAG! Each bag is centered around a gender and/or theme: Dora, Spider-Man, Frozen, Minions…YOU NAME IT…and the bag contains everything a family would need to celebrate a birthday in their own setting. Bags include cake mix, frosting, napkins, plates, forks, cups, candles, streamers etc.

Once we assemble these bags, we deliver them to our local food banks and other partnering agencies so that they are stocked up and ready for some partying!

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250 BABIES!

Our Itty-Bitty program is precious to say the least. For this program, we combine the concept of our birthday parties with our Cheer Bin program. Instead of throwing a birthday party, we host Baby Showers and hand out Itty Bitty Birthday Bins as the shower gifts.

We recognize that the birth of a child is the first chance a mother gets to celebrate the child’s life! For this reason, we love getting the expecting mother’s we serve excited about the new joy they are bringing into this world. Baby Showers are hosted seasonally, and each mother that attends receives an Itty Bitty bin with size one diapers, baby wipes, bottles, binkies, board books, baby onesies and a toy. We have also partnered with our friend Jasmine at Yummyholic, who creates beautiful and delicious favor cookies for the showers. They are an absolute blast!

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13,080 CLASSROOM BIRTHDAYS

We are gearing up now for our 2017-2018 Classroom Cheer Kit Program. Every child loves and deserves to be recognized amongst their peers at school. This includes being recognized on their birthday! With the help of the Education Partnership, we have been able to support our local public school teachers in recognizing their students with our “Classroom Cheer Bins”. Each bin contains 30 birthday pencils, crowns, badges, bracelets, cheer chants and more. We also pair the bin with a big calendar for the teachers to record their students’ birthdays on! This year, we are excited to include some birthday super-hero capes and birthday activity books!

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1,790+ VOLUNTEERS HOURS

Each of the programs listed above would truly not function if it weren’t for the support of our volunteers! From attending birthday parties, to baking cupcakes, to assembling treat bags, to inventorying toys at our office, to assisting with our big-scale events and MORE…We are so grateful for their hours and willingness to share their talents to support our mission. Each birthday smile shared through our organization is a true reflection of the volunteers’ work and kindness. Stay tuned for some fun April news! We will be honoring our volunteers for National Volunteer Appreciation Week!

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WHAT’S AHEAD?

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to read what we were able to accomplish in 2016, it thrills us to share that in the past 5 years, we have been able to recognize over 15,000 birthdays through our programming!!! If this isn’t incentive to celebrate…we truly don’t know what is!

We hope you will join us in doing just that, at our Adult-Baseball-Birthday-Bash at PNC Park on Thursday April 20th. We have so much fun in store and would love to have you there to celebrate with us. You can follow this link to learn more and secure your tickets! Until then… We wish you BIRTHDAY CHEER!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-of-birthday-cheer-5th-birthday-celebration-tickets-30894768083?aff=efbevent

Summertime, Smiles, & Birthday Cheer

SUMMER GREETINGS!

Time certainly flies when you’re having a blast. That’s exactly what we do at Beverly’s Birthdays….

A big hello from the entire Beverly’s Birthdays crew! Since we last posted a blog entry (last March – WOW), we celebrated the following birthday months in style!

APRIL – TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME! 

In-line with the opening of the baseball season, we made sure our April birthday kids had a “home run” celebration! Activities included:

  • Baseball Cap Design
  • Pennant making
  • Baseball Bingo
  • Dizzy Bat Challenges
  • Baseball books
  • Baseball music and more!

MAY – WILD-LIFE ZOOTOPIA

Our May parties were absolutely WILD as we celebrated with zoo-animal games and activities. The parties consisted of:

  • Animal Mask-Making
  • Animal tattoos
  • Animal bingo
  • Safari hunts
  • Animal book readings and sound calls
  • Animal Charades

JUNE – SUPERHERO EXTRAVAGANZA!

June was absolutely SUPER! Our June birthday kids channeled their inner super-powers and we celebrated in style with:

  • Superhero mask making
  • Superhero carnival wheel games
  • Superhero Bingo
  • Superhero tattoos
  • Hulk hands egg races
  • Pin the star on Captain America

JULY – PIRATE FUN!

We took July out on the open sea and celebrated our birthdays as pirates. The kids had a blast with our activities:

  • Pirate Hat making
  • Parrot designs
  • Walk-the-plank games
  • Pirate Bingo
  • Pirate Tattoos
  • Pirate treasure hunts to find their GOLD (treat bags)

 

THE SUPPORT IS ASTOUNDING!

Each party we celebrate is made possible by the support of our amazing volunteers and donors. The smiles you see on the faces of the kids we serve are brought about by the amazing people that come to and support our programs. We are blown away by the number of hours spent each month: baking, packaging, shopping and partying in order to support our organization. There are numerous ways to get involved, and our BIRTHDAY CHEER SQUAD never fails to step up in times of need. In a world that is often filled with  sadness and doubt, we are lucky to have a constant reminder of the GOOD that is out there. Thank you, Pittsburgh, for your hearts of (black and) GOLD. 😉 We could not do what we do without your continued love and support. KEEP ON SPREADING THE SMILES…

IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

As Program Managers, Martina and Kate are often asked to explain what they do as an organization and why it matters. Often times, it’s hard to put into words what we do. It all comes down to experiences….

Each event we throw is a little bit different. Sometimes we come back from a party with a million stories to share on “what the kids said” and “why laughter was shared”. Other times, we have a single moment that sticks with us and makes us take a step back and put life into perspective. The easiest way to explain is to share our own experiences:

Martina’s moment with Mc Chicken: Martina was getting prepared to host her monthly party at an organization we support in McKeesport. As she was packing up her gifts for the party, she remembered that Kate mentioned that one of the kids celebrating their birthday that night specifically requested a Mc Chicken sandwich as their birthday gift. (Yes. He asked for a sandwich for his birthday…). Kate and Martina giggled about the silly request and not thinking too much about it, Martina stopped at Mc Dondald’s on her way to the party. She bought the boy 2 Mc Chicken sandwiches to accompany his birthday present. When she arrived to the party, and presented the sandwiches to the young boy, he was OVERJOYED. Martina had never seen someone so ecstatic to eat a sandwich from McDonalds before. This moment reminded her of the importance of the simple joys in life. We often put so much weight on silly and unimportant things that we forget to acknowledge the simple joys around us. Whether the party was a huge hit or not, Martina felt fulfilled leaving the event, knowing that she was able to make one kid smile and enjoy their day…All because of a sandwich or two…

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Kate’s Make a Wish Story: In July, Kate threw a pirate party at a shelter in Glenshaw, where we celebrated two young boys. After playing pirate bingo, crafting pirate hats, and taking the kids on a big treasure hunt, it was time for us to sing happy birthday and devour the sweet treasure chest cupcakes. The kids finished singing happy birthday and Kate quickly reminded the birthday boys to make a wish as they blew out their candles. One boy, who had just turned ten, quickly walked up to Kate after blowing out his candle and told her that his wish was “for this moment to be longer.” Kate fought back the tears, as this simple statement so quickly reminded her why the work we do is so important. She left there and prayed for this boy to remember and keep this happy memory with him forever. We may not be able to freeze these special times for the children as we so wish that we could, but knowing that he’ll be able to look back on his 10th birthday fondly makes everything worth it! As Dr. Seuss said and Miss Megs so often reminds us, “You never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

treasure cupcakes

An ‘AHA’ moment for a board member: One of our sweet board members and volunteers shared this story with the Beverly’s staff after volunteering at a party at the Bradley Center in July. Mike wrote, “At the party last week,  I really got to spend some QT with a sweet girl who was thrilled to have Moe’s & cupcakes. She was also on a high risk watch and almost wasn’t allowed to go outside, so I’m glad she got the clearance and she nailed it!

As we sat in the sun watching the events unfold she mentioned to me how much she was excited to finally be 18 this coming Friday and how much she admired the other volunteer’s dress. So much so, that she exclaimed this across the bustling courtyard. She then turned to me and said, “I really like that dress she has, and I would love to have one like that someday.”  This one exchange re-centered me, almost instantly, and provided perspective, and a big announcement in my head to Shut Up about my ‘problems.’  I legitimately left that evening and cried in the car on the way home. I had always felt our mission, but never to this degree.  I get to leave this and go home to my comfortable environment, but this is her daily life.

A call to action. Rachel, a staff member from the Bradley Center, reached out to thank me and I immediately knew I wanted a way to get this girl the dress. We worked it out and I’m excited to announce that today after work I’m passing off a personalized birthday card for her, with a Target Gift Card stuffed inside.  The staff on her unit received permission to take her to Target to pick out her favorite dress and new shoes…all in time for her special day this Friday.

So here’s to you all for allowing me this opportunity and for the chance to truly make a smile matter.”

To wrap it all up: Yes – At the end of the day, we are celebrating birthdays. At the root of it, however, we are celebrating PEOPLE: striving to spread joy, reminding individuals that they matter, making sure laughter, smiles and love are shared each day of our lives. Each of us is special and deserves to be acknowledged for being so. With that all in mind, we continue to spread birthday cheer, 365 days a year! Life is a party!

 

STAFF UPDATE

We are thrilled to announce that our Founder, Megs Yunn, gave birth to her 3rd child: A beautiful baby girl named Sadie. Both momma and baby are happy and healthy. Congratulations to the entire Yunn family. Such a beautiful blessing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MISS SADIE!

 

Thanks for reading! Enjoy the rest of your summers and check back soon to see what we have planned for this fall! Lots of love and cheer to be spread!

Birthday Cheer~

The Beverly’s Birthdays Team

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Spring greetings from the Land of Cheer!

GREETINGS FROM THE BEVERLY’S BIRTHDAYS TEAM

It’s never a dull moment in the Land of Birthday Cheer and we are thrilled to introduce everyone to our newest staff member, KATE LIVINGSTON! Kate is joining Beverly’s Birthdays as Program/Agency Relations Manager. She is an absolute joy and we are lucky to have her!

Like all good teams, we made sure to welcome Kate to the office with some staff ice breakers. we first decided to analyze and specify what each of our office spirit animals are. Just so you are all caught up, the results were as follows:

MEGS YUNN – GENERAL DIRECTOR – MEERKAT

Megs, much like Timone from Disney’s Classic, “The Lion King”, is a highly energetic, feisty, determined and caring individual. Always on the move and doing good, she resembles the characteristics of a Meerkat. The Meerkat is also known to be a very protective animal. With two little ones and a third on the way, Megs’ beautiful and motherly demeanor greatly resembles that of the Meerkat. Megs insists that the Meerkat is an ugly animal, but we think they are pretty adorable. Look at that hug!

JOSH WHITESIDE – DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT – OTTER

If the picture doesn’t say it, I don’t know what does. Otters are known to be full of positive energy. They are super popular, lovable and display highly developed social skills. Otters also mix easily with a wide range of animal personalities (working with a team of ladies, this trait is needed). Anyone that knows Josh knows that he is the definition of “MR. PERSONALITY”. The characteristics of an otter fit him perfectly, and we are glad to have him around!

MARTINA CARUSO – PROGRAM/VOLUNTEER MANAGER – PEACOACK

Many people think Martina is reserved upon first meeting her. It’s true, Martina has an introverted personality. A true performer at heart however, when put in her element, Martina opens her feathers to reveal her vivacious colors and skills. This comes out most when she is in her comfort zone and she LOVES to share it with the children at the parties she leads.

KATE LIVINGSTON – PROGRAM/AGENCY RELATIONS MANAGER – DOLPHIN

Kate has had no reservations jumping right into the daily routine of Program Manager! Dolphins are said to be at their best helping others to achieve their goals. They are unassuming and dedicated to their cause and derive great satisfaction, fostering greatness in others. Kate brings out happiness in others the moment she steps into the room. Her loving dolphin-personality is just what we needed on our team!

TRACY MONGELUZZO – FINANCE MANAGER – OWL

Since her first day at Beverly’s Birthdays, Tracy has been an ever-calming force in the office. The owl is the most tranquil of of the bird personalities. They are creatures of great integrity, wisdom and intelligence. Tracy is all of these things and more!  Owls are not without their assertive side however. They won’t hesitate to use their sassy personality. This comes out in Tracy at the best moments. We would be in trouble without our office owl!

It’s always fun to be a little silly in the office and we thoroughly believe we have a very well rounded team of animals!

The SECOND ice breaker we did as an office team was to take on the challenge of BEAN BAMBOOZLED, a game we have started playing at our March birthday parties. It has been a huge hit thus far with the teens attending these parties! If you haven’t tried it yet, we DARE you to.

To play, you spin a dial to land on a jelly bean. This jelly bean could be absolutely delicious or absolutely disgusting (example: if you spin and land on a white jelly bean, it will either taste like coconut OR baby wipes). You don’t know what the flavor will be until it is actually in you mouth! As a staff, we each had a chance to test both the good and bad flavors. It was a hilarious team building experience. We definitely recommend you bring this to your kid-based parties or take it out at a family for game night.

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Icebreakers aside, The Beverly’s Birthdays team is excited to jump into the Spring Birthday Season. We look forward to sharing our individual talents and passions with the agencies and families we serve and hope you are equally excited to get involved!

FEBRUARY FESTIVITIES

February was DINOSAUR month in the land of cheer. It was definitely a winning theme. The children, both boys and girls, had a ball with the activities planned. The most popular activity we lead was our Dino Safari Hunt. For this, we passed out plain safari hats that the children could decorate with dinosaur foam stickers. The kids got extremely creative and were anxious to put their hats to use:

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Once the hats were complete, we brought the children to the floor to read “How do Dinosaurs say Happy Birthday?” by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. This got everyone settled and prepared to go on their Safari Scavenger Hunt. Prior to the party, we hid dinosaur fossil eggs throughout the room and gave the children 2 minutes to collect as many eggs as possible. They had a blast, sporting their individualized dino hats, and hunting for the fossil eggs. Even the older kids got excited as they tried to spot the vibrant eggs hidden throughout the room.

Other activities we lead at the February Dinosaur Parties included:

  • Dino Bingo
  • Dino Egg Races
  • Setting the Scene: Dino Stampers and coloring
  • Vibrant Dino scratch ornaments
  • Act like a Dino games and MORE
It’s always nice, as a Program Manager, to know we are having a memorable affect on the kids we serve. Martina was especially thrilled when she saw one of her Birthday Boys at the Lincoln Park Family Center in February. Knowing that his birthday was coming up, she had told him the month prior that the theme for his birthday was going to be “Dinosaurs”. His eyes instantly lit up. Much to her surprise, the young boy showed up to his February birthday party, decked out in an AWESOME dinosaur shirt!
It’s examples like this that makes us smile as a team. Knowing that this little boy remembered that he had a month to plan out his outfit for his party meant that he knew it was his special day to be in the spotlight. He definitely shined like a birthday star in our books!
LAND OF CHEER VOLUNTEERS
February was yet another busy month for our fantastic volunteers and donors. Beyond the efforts of our party bakers, staff and treat bags sponsors, we had several groups come out to do projects at our North Huntingdon office, as well as several local teams that ran successful donation drives for our organization. We have been so fortunate to work with groups that understand and can relate to our mission on a personal level. Thank you, again, to all those who have contributed to our cause. You are appreciated more than you probably know!
If you ever want to get involved further, or have an idea you would like to share with our organization, don’t hesitate to contact Martina at mcaruso@beverlysbirthdays.org
WHAT’S AHREAD?
We recently expanded our organization’s offices to the building next door. Since October, this building has gradually become our birthday bin factory, toy store and volunteer space. With the help of many volunteer groups and friends, we have gradually been able to transform this space into a manageable working area. That said, with a staff of only 5 that is constantly on the move, the area is still a constant work-in progress.

For this reason, we are THRILLED to share that we were selected as one of the final candidates to participate in the “IKEA Life Improvement Co-Worker Challenge” – a program that gives our organization the opportunity to win a MAKEOVER FROM IKEA! IKEA co-workers had the opportunity to nominate a charity to win a makeover for  a space that helps to improve the lives of others in their local community (THAT’S TOTALLY US!). Co-workers and customers then vote for their favorite charities and WE NEED YOUR HELP TO WIN.
FROM MARCH 27TH – APRIL 10TH, cast your vote DAILY for Beverly’s Birthdays. Winning this makeover will help create an environment that allows us to get materials out more efficiently! It will also help us create a nice space where YOU (our volunteers and supporters) can work to maximize your service to the fullest ability. All you have to do is follow the link below and VOTE ONCE A DAY:
We won’t be able to make it possible without your help, so please share this with your friends and be ready to vote every day! THANK YOU!
IN CLOSING
Let’s  keep the parties going, and the smiles flowing this Spring!
BIRTHDAY CHEER,
The Beverly’s Birthdays Team