ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico mom is getting ready for a year of back-to-back birthday parties. They’re not for her kids or anyone she even knows. Her parties are for underprivileged kids who often don’t get to celebrate their special day.
Project Birthday New Mexico launched last month but has been in the works for a year. They provide birthday parties for children who are homeless or receive low-income subsidies. Founder and Executive Director Jessica Lucero — who also works as a paralegal in town — saw the need in Albuquerque and decided to take action.
“Our mission is to throw birthday parties for homeless children and children who qualify for low-income subsidies. We go into shelters or crisis centers as well as anyone who houses homeless children,” said Lucero, who decided to finally make the jump after seeing a story about a similar organization in Pennsylvania, Beverly’s Birthdays. “I just couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I think I would know how to run it and realizing kids in our community really needed it.”
Project Birthday NM hopes to do at least 100 parties this first year. They’re helping at Joy Junction through the rest of 2020 hosting at least one party there each month, in addition to community parties where multiple families can celebrate together.
The parties include decorations, cake, pizza and STEM activities. Each birthday child gets a gift, including a book, toothbrush and toothpaste, a new outfit and a toy that they choose.
“We make our birthday presents specifically geared toward that child,” said Lucero. “We have a very big questionnaire of what’s your favorite character, what’s your favorite school subject, what size do you wear.”
Lucero says something as simple as singing “Happy Birthday” to a child can make all the difference for these hardships they face early on. She says her favorite moment at each party is seeing the children blow out the candles.
“It gives them a moment in time to show them that they matter and if it’s an hour or two hours, or just the song, Happy Birthday, itself, it really brightens their day and it shows them they’re important,” said Lucero. “It just kind of takes them out of their own reality for a minute and it’s amazing.”
Project Birthday NM is also putting together “party kits.” Shelters will have them on-hand in case the non-profit can’t make it out there to throw a party. They are also distributing party kits to eight area schools.
“They have snacks for the entire class, a birthday sticker, a birthday bookmark, a birthday bookmark, a crown. Some kids aren’t able to celebrate their birthdays during school so we just want to make it an even ratio for everyone and make it easier for the teachers,” said Lucero. “All of that comes out of their pockets sometimes so we want to take the burden off of the teachers and the shelters and anyone that we can to do the birthday parties.”
Project Birthday NM needs volunteers to put kits together and help out at parties. They are also in need of party supply donations and any monetary donations that can help buy food or gifts for the children. Businesses who would like to “sponsor” a party are always welcomed. If you would like to contact them and help out, CLICK HERE.
Project Birthday NM also has a GoFundMe set up.