Meet the Teen Bringing Birthday Fun to Underpriviledged Kids

I co-founded Celebrate U with my friend, Chase Kauder, to take our philanthropic efforts to the next level. Through Celebrate U, we strive to spread joy by throwing birthday parties for disadvantaged children living in underserved communities. We work with local and national organizations to donate gifts, crafts, food, music and other services to create memorable experiences for children. Birthday parties are a simple way to recognize children and let them know they are important and provide hope for a brighter year ahead. My team begin by creating a large birthday banner signed by all of the attendees, followed by various age-based games including sing-alongs. Celebrate U has raised more than $20,000 to host more than 1,000 birthday parties with the help of sponsors such as Magnolia Bakery and Treat House and the volunteer efforts of over 250 New York City student volunteers.

I am so grateful to be selected as a 2016 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipient and I am so appreciative to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for giving me this amazing opportunity. This award is a validation of the importance of Celebrate U and the impact that we are making on children’s lives. With this award I will be able to further my college education as well as expand Celebrate U.

Our goal is to make Celebrate U into a national organization and this award helps that goal become a reality. What is so special about the Tikkun Olam Award is that I am joining a group of teens who share similar interests and goals with me and also have a passion for giving back. I feel lucky to be part of such a special group.

Community service is so important because you get to see firsthand how much of a difference you can make. Doing community service also allows you to become more grateful for what you have. I didn’t realize the impact that Celebrate U would have on our volunteers. I am always thrilled to see the smiling faces of the children we celebrate and I am just as excited to see the joy our parties bring to the volunteers.

Celebrate U is run by teens and we truly empower our volunteers to run the events and connect with the children. I am always looking for volunteers to join Celebrate U as I know firsthand how impactful volunteering can be. The goal of our parties is to bring two hours of pure happiness to children, boost their self-esteem and provide hope for a positive future. We feel it’s so important to have family friends and their community shower them with love and attention to let them know that they are appreciated. I encourage you to check out my website for more information on how you can get involved.

This story "Meet the Teen Bringing Birthday Fun to Underpriviledged Kids" was written by Talia Eskenazi.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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