When first-grader Maddie Mead was thinking about her own birthday celebration her thoughts turned to children whose birthdays may be overlooked or go unrecognized because of circumstances beyond their control.
That’s when she decided to take action and came up with an idea aimed at making birthdays a little brighter for homeless children. Together with her mom, Maddie organized Project Birthday Wishes reaching out to family members, friends and her first-grade classmates at Southgate Elementary School for donations of party supplies and small gifts that children would enjoy receiving.
Maddie collected wrapping paper, boxes, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, coloring books, lip gloss, nail polish and more. The first-grader then created “birthdays in a box” that she and her mom delivered to Equinox for its Domestic Violence Shelter and Youth programs. Equinox is a non-profit organization in Albany that provides services, assistance and support to individuals, children and families struggling with such life challenges as domestic violence, homelessness, mental illness, chemical dependency and poverty.
For her service to the community, grade 1 teacher Joanne Dennis nominated Maddie to be recognized as the North Colonie Kids Care recipient for March.
“Most every student in my class donated to Project Birthday Wishes,” said Dennis. “Maddie was able to provide many children with a much happier birthday through this project.”
Equinox sent a letter of thanks to Dennis’ first grade class for its donations. In the letter, Equinox Director of Development and Community Relations Christina Rajotte wrote: “We are so grateful to be a part of your charitable giving. Thank you so much for assisting Ms. Carly Mead and Maddie Mead in collecting birthday kits for our Domestic Violence Shelter and Youth programs.”
The letter continued: “What a creative project with so much thoughtfulness and heart behind it. Many thanks for your very meaningful gifts.”
That sentiment was echoed at the March 27 Board of Education meeting where Maddie, accompanied by her parents, was recognized by school district leaders.
“What a wonderful idea Project Birthday Wishes is,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “Maddie, all the adults here tonight are in awe of your hard work and your generous heart.”