Birthday Bag Blitz brightens children’s special day

Selecting Barbie dolls and action figures, stuffed animals, puzzles and games, art supplies, pens and pencils Hoover Elementary School students stuffed bags full of toys, trinkets and treasures during the April 18 Birthday Bag Blitz.

Tsepak Byaltsen (wearing Vikings jersey) and Yusuf Ahmed select a stuffed animal to include in the birthday bag they put together. Photo by Sue Austreng

Tsepak Byaltsen (wearing Vikings jersey) and Yusuf Ahmed select a stuffed animal to include in the birthday bag they put together. Photo by Sue Austreng

The project had students and their families first donating thousands of new items for the project, then spending the day assembling the birthday bags in Hoover’s gymnasium.

The bags were then donated to local food shelves and distributed to food shelf clients for use celebrating a little one’s birthday.

“This is for kids that don’t get birthday presents because their parents can’t buy a present. We’re donating toys so they can have a birthday,” said fifth-grade student council member Wilfred Sato.

The Birthday Bag Blitz is a project that Wilfred and his fellow student council members selected as something they wanted to do.

Hoover Elementary School student council member Wilfred Sato signs a giant banner before making a birthday bag to be donated to Anoka County food shelves. Photo by Sue Austreng

Hoover Elementary School student council member Wilfred Sato signs a giant banner before making a birthday bag to be donated to Anoka County food shelves. Photo by Sue Austreng

Second-grade teacher Jane Hammes organized the effort along with student council co-adviser Scott Tegtmeier.

“We filled over 300 gift bags that will be distributed to all local food shelves in Anoka County,” said Hammes.

After Hoover School’s K-5 students paired up and filled bags on Birthday Bag Blitz day, they enjoyed a piece of birthday cake and signed a giant banner that proclaimed, “We are Cheerful Givers.”

Cheerful Givers is an organization with which Hoover partnered to accomplish the project.

As described on its website, Cheerful Givers is a 501c3 nonprofit organization committed to helping children in need.

Dola Green (center, wearing black) and classmates peruse the selection of stuffed animals and determine which would be best to include in the birthday bag they are assembling. Photo by Sue Austreng

Dola Green (center, wearing black) and classmates peruse the selection of stuffed animals and determine which would be best to include in the birthday bag they are assembling. Photo by Sue Austreng

“We provide birthday gift bags through shelters and food shelves to disadvantaged, needy children,” the site states.

Since Cheerful Givers began in 1994, the organization has provided more than 600,000 children with birthday gift bags.

“We provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift,” the website states.
We believe this simple gesture boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth, and strengthens bonds in families.”

Hoover students seem to agree.

“If I had a birthday and I didn’t get a present it would feel like my parents didn’t have time or didn’t care enough,” said Wilfred. “I’m glad we can do this to help someone have a happy birthday.”

To learn more about Cheerful Givers, or to start a project of your own, visit www.cheerfulgivers.org.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

 
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