When COVID-19 closed schools early last spring, homeless and impoverished children missed out on the bags of birthday gifts provided during the school year by Bright Blessings LKN. Now, even with many schools throughout Iredell County still operating virtually, children are again receiving birthday cheer from the program, with the help of school counselors and community volunteers.
According to program coordinator Linda Morris, “The counselors have asked us to resume programming, and they are helping to arrange for children to receive their birthday gifts, even if school staff are needed to deliver the bags to the child’s home.”
With that goal in mind, volunteers at Bright Blessings LKN put together for each child — grades K-12 — a birthday party kit that includes a cake mix, can of frosting and birthday napkins and candles, along with specially selected, colorfully wrapped birthday gifts and a hygiene kit.
“We believe children deserve to feel special, especially on their special day — their birthday — and we know that helping children feel special is an important part of feeling self-confident and capable of facing life’s challenges,” Morris said.
When the bags of birthday gifts are delivered, they always include at least two brand new books, chosen because they have received recognition as either a Newbery or Caldecott winner, or highly rated by entities such as the Goodreads community. Morris revealed that this year, Bright Blessings LKN has added almost 400 new titles with the help of an Iredell County Community Foundation Grant.
“Bright Blessings LKN was fortunate enough to be selected as a recipient and believes that the children receiving the books provided by the grant will have their lives enriched by the generosity of the foundation’s donors,” Morris stated. The foundation is an affiliate of the Foundation for the Carolinas, which this year focused on grants that addressed workforce development, literacy for children ages 5-10, and veterans’ affairs.
Bright Blessings LKN serves public school homeless and impoverished children in Iredell and north Mecklenburg counties. Its mission is “To bring joy, care and hope to homeless and impoverished children by mobilizing community volunteers of all ages.” Children are served through the Bless-A-Birthday and Gift of Care programs.
The Gift of Care program, where volunteers fill “Go Bags” with supplies for homeless children, is being supported this fall by grants from Williamson’s Chapel United Methodist Church and Niagara Care Foundation. Each school receives bags containing a blanket, pillow and pillowcase, hygiene items, healthy snacks, a comfort item and a sleeping bag to distribute to children identified as homeless.
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