I am competitive. So when I read stories about kids who told people not to bring them birthday presents, but rather make donations to a charity, I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do that.” I vowed that my birthday would no longer be about me, but what I could do for others. Starting in 2006 I started organizing benefits to help charities. That first year, I got some friends together to help on a build for Habitat for Humanity. Since then, I have organized a couple of silent auction fundraisers (to benefit the Alpha Center, the Wellington Junior High School After Hours program, and the Wellington Food Bank), a fundraiser for Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Center, and a mini-home-makeover for a local foster care family. I collected gift cards for one of my students who was battling cancer, and I convinced several friends to cut their hair with me for Locks of Love. This year, I organized a yard sale to benefit Faith Family Hospitality, an organization dedicated to helping Fort Collins families in housing crisis.
Does it sound like I’m super woman? I’ll let you in on a secret: I hate organizing things. I don’t want to be the go-to person. I’d much rather show up on the day of, with a shovel in hand and be “support staff.”
What I realized is that most people are like that. My amazing friends always are ready to help anyone, but we all needed someone to organize the events. And after a couple of years of dodging it, I capitulated to the idea that the someone was me.
God has taught me many things through organizing my birthday “parties”:
- It really is better to give than receive. The foster care family gave me flowers and a card (with a picture of all of them on it) as a thank you. I think that’s the best birthday present ever.
- My life (even my birthday!) is not all about me.
- It won’t kill me to go up to people I don’t know and ask them to donate (or do) something for a good cause.
- God can use us all in unique ways… even when we feel we’re not “gifted” in that area.
- God’s glory is shown in all circumstances that look hopeless. For the Hearts and Horses fundraiser, it rained and snowed for two days before our event. The gal from H&H said we’d have to cancel (because of the mud, etc.), but I insisted not; instead, we came up with creative ideas, and rather than losing money (which is what would have happened had we cancelled), we made over $600 for the center.
I said, “No,” to God for several years before I said, “Yes,” to this crazy idea of a birthday benefit every year. Now, I say, “No,” differently: No excuses, No wimping out, No sitting on the sidelines wishing someone would do something. The someone is me. It could be you.