Did you know there are more than 8,000 children in New Jersey who are living outside of a permanent, loving family. Many of these foster children never experience the simple joy of receiving a birthday gift. But one Westfield resident has made it her mission to put a smile on every foster child’s face through A Birthday Wish.
In 2014 Jane Hoffman partnered with CASA of Union County to found A Birthday Wish, an organization that gives children in foster care a birthday gift and card specially selected for them. According to Jane, “Fulfilling a special birthday wish says, ‘the day you were born is a day to celebrate, and we acknowledge the unique person that you are.’ It also builds trust. A child in foster care has experienced the betrayal of broken promises. Allowing a child to ask for something special and to have that wish granted is a small step in learning that you can trust people in your life.Through the money we raise and the wishes we grant, we are able to reach a child on their birthday with a message of hope, in celebration of their life.”
Jane has a long history of working in the nonprofit sector as a fundraising consultant, however she likes to get her hands dirty. “I find hands-on volunteering to be the most rewarding. For me, service to others in my local community is about connecting with people, hearing their stories and working together.”
In the past 10 months, A Birthday Wish has granted over 300 birthday wishes in New Jersey foster care, and every county in the state has expressed interest in the program! Kids who normally wouldn’t get so much as a “happy birthday” have received everything from shiny new bikes to Barbie dream houses and everything in between.
How can you get involved in making a foster child’s birthday wish come true? There are several ways:
- Visit www.ABirthdayWish.org to select a wish! You can grant a wish in celebration of your birthday or the birthday of a family member or friend.
- Get your children involved. Encourage your children to hold a lemonade stand or bake sale at school. With the money they raise they can pick the Birthday Wishes they want to grant!
- Host a Wrapping Party. Is your book club, scout troop or service organization looking for a fun service project? Set the date, ask your guests to pick a birthday wish to grant and come together to wrap your gifts and make cards. A Birthday Wish will also provide you with other gifts that need to be wrapped that month!
- No Gifts Please! Do your kids have enough stuff? Are you about to celebrate at milestone birthday? In lieu of gifts, ask friends and family to contribute any monetary amount in your honor of your special occasion. A Birthday Wish can help you set-up your personalized fundraising page. The best part? You get to pick the Birthday Wishes you want to grant!
And on Friday November 13, A Birthday Wish will celebrate its first anniversary at Crossroads in Garwood with a special night of Bruce Springsteen tunes by Asbury Fever! All proceeds from the fun evening will be used to grant Birthday Wishes of children in NJ foster care.
Isn’t it amazing how one person’s good idea can positively affect the lives of so many?