In our second post, we’ll share with you how families shop in The Birthday Marketplace for gifts and choose a sweet treat and birthday card for their child’s birthday celebration. You’ll also read about how the Birthday Packages are distributed to the families.
How do families gain access to The Birthday Marketplace?
Identified families receive a unique shopping code from their social services agency. Families go to our website to log in to the Birthday Market and begin the shopping process.
What types of gifts may they choose from?
Parents/caregivers can select developmental toys for babies and toddlers. They will find sports equipment options for all ages as well as science and nature kits. They can also choose from pretend play options and a variety of musical instruments including a xylophone for little ones, a ukulele for elementary-age kids, and even a harmonica for tweens and teens.
And that’s not all!
The Birthday Marketplace offers gifts like rollerblades and skateboards, board games, fidgets, and jewelry. Gift cards to places like TJ Maxx, Chipotle, SkyZone, and more are favorites for older kids.
All gifts are considered gender-neutral and can be chosen for any child.
Additionally, all families choose a birthday card. A birthday card can be a keepsake to hang onto to remember their special day for years after the gifts have become favorite memories.
Reading is vital for children of all ages and receiving a book on their birthday is an important way to encourage children to read. Each child receives a new age-appropriate book chosen for them by their parent/caregiver. All books are donated by the nonprofit Turn the Page and the Kansas City Public Library Outreach program. Titles include a wide variety of genres, ranging from classics like Snowy Day for little ones to Akata Witch for older kids with lots to choose from
Sweet treats are baked by Chef Dan Hogan, a chef instructor at Manual Career & Tech Center’s culinary program. Parents/caregivers can enjoy customizing the sweet treat by choosing either a cake or cookies. Cake choices include 2 different sizes, 3 different cake flavors, 2 icing flavors and they even have the option of choosing up to 3 icing accent colors.
If the family chooses the cookie option, they get to select their favorite kind of cookie and will receive 2 dozen VERY large cookies.
At a minimum, every cake says Happy Birthday! Each cookie order contains a “cookie plaque” that says “Happy Birthday.” And what kid doesn’t love seeing their name? If the parents/caregiver chooses to share their child’s name, it’s there on the cake or the cookie plaque! Though there’s an option to provide their child’s name, we realize for some families this information cannot be shared.
Where do the gifts come from?
Once families’ orders are received, we get to work fulfilling their requests. We don’t have a physical stock of gifts because we feel that would limit the selection of gifts we offer to the families. Having a physical inventory of gifts is costly and would force us to have a small offering of gift options, limiting the options for families to choose from.
Instead? We shop online! Always looking for the best prices, we hit Amazon, Target, and Walmart’s websites. We shop local when it makes sense. Everything is ordered new!
Once the gifts are ordered and received by Birthday Connections, everything is placed in a shopping bag into what we call the Birthday Package! How fun it is to see these bags of goodies. Each one is unique!
In addition to the items chosen from The Birthday Marketplace, a roll of wrapping paper and tape goes in each bag because it isn’t a present until it’s wrapped, and we want the parents/caregivers to have the pleasure of wrapping their children’s gifts! A package of paper plates and napkins goes in as well. The Birthday Package is ready for delivery!
How do families receive the gifts?
We take the Birthday Packages along with the sweet treats to the social services agencies in their continuing role as liaisons. The agencies distribute everything to the families. Birthday Connections is not involved in the hand-off to the families because preserving the privacy and dignity of parents/caregivers is paramount to Birthday Connections. With everything in hand, the families are in control to decide how to celebrate their children’s birthdays.
It warms our hearts to know that families in Kansas City now have a safety net of resources to recognize and celebrate their children’s birthdays in a way that hopefully makes them smile, experience hope and joy, and gives them an opportunity to create memories that last a lifetime!
Join us for our next blog when we talk about ways the community can be a part of our mission! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in two weeks!