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As Amy Cervantes watched her son Alex marvel at his gifts while surrounded by friends and family on his third birthday, she felt a twinge of sadness. The mother of three thought about the thousands of homeless kids who wouldn’t get to celebrate in such a joyous way and decided in that moment to do something about it.



Since making her resolution in 2005, Cervantes – along with her husband and three sons –- has enabled more than 10,000 homeless children to properly revel on their birthdays, TODAY.com reports. The North Carolina family’s efforts have evolved into a full on nonprofit, Bright Blessings, and the organization is developing affiliates in a number of other states.

“We believe that birthdays are a celebration of life -- a time to emphasize that your life has purpose, that you are a gift,” the Cervantes family told the Charlotte Observer. “For children who were already struggling with issues of poverty and homelessness, we couldn’t imagine how much worse they might feel waking up on their birthday and knowing there would be no celebration or special attention.”  Read More...

Around their son’s third birthday, it dawned on Amy and John Cervantes that the joy, love and recognition their little boy, Alex, received on his big day — surrounded by new toys, family and friends — was absent from many children’s lives.


So in 2005 the Cervantes family, who had been looking for a service project for their growing brood, began throwing birthday parties for homeless children who otherwise might not get to celebrate the day they were born.


“We wanted to get our kids involved and it can be hard to find suitable places for children,” Amy Cervantes told TODAY.com. “For young children, a lot of things are very abstract. 
Something like a birthday every child understands: What if their day came and no one came to celebrate with them?”



The North Carolina family's project has since grown into the nonprofit Bright Blessings, which has now marked the birthdays of more than 10,000 needy kids.



The Cervantes put on group celebrations for children whose birthdays fall in the same month, throwing parties with cake, cupcakes, games and presents.


At the first bash they held, the family was most surprised that the majority of kids at the shelter had never attended a birthday party, let alone had one of their own. The homeless children often experience firsts at the parties, from blowing out candles (“Can I do it again?”) to keeping the gifts they’ve unwrapped (“Do I get to keep these?”).  Read More...



When Amy Cervantes and her husband John wanted to teach their three kids about giving back to the community, they found a way to do it that ended up helping thousands.

 

Inspiration struck when their oldest son Alex turned 3 and the family was celebrating with a small party at the park. Cervantes, 40, looked at the stack of presents and Thomas the Tank Engine cake and thought about kids who weren't able to celebrate the day they were born.

She came up with a simple, but powerful idea – they would throw a birthday party for a homeless child in a shelter.



"After seeing our own son, it just kind of struck us on that day," Cervantes says of her eldest, now 10. "Realizing how blessed he was to be surrounded by and filled with the sense of care and love from others on the day. It just struck us, made us think about kids who don't get to experience that."



Starting with a luau-themed party for kids at a homeless shelter, Amy, John, 40, a financial adviser, and their three boys Alex, Adam, 8, and Eli, 5, have since feted more than 10,000 needy kids through their nonprofit Bright Blessings. Relying on donations and volunteers, they hold monthly birthday bashes for groups of children, with face-painting, cupcakes and gifts like footballs and board games. Read more...

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