How Giving Gave My Birthday Meaning

Post by Charissa Struble for the Kind Kindred series.

print by Sixhours Photography on etsy

How Giving Gave My Birthday Meaning

I read a lot so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I found the idea of a “giving birthday” online. I was surfing the web, clicking on one link and then the next when I stumbled across a blog documenting the author’s revolutionary celebration. Rather than expect gifts on her birthday, she decided to give to others in her community. There would be one act of kindness for every year of her life. The idea was genius! I had to know more about it.

I carefully read through the blog taking note of the ideas I found most appealing. Every detail of what the author did that day was carefully written and captured in time with photographs. Even her two small children were in on the fun. I knew then that my life had changed. I would never celebrate my birthday with a store-bought cake and paper party hats again. I would do something memorable, something that benefited mankind and left me feeling good for a really long time. I sat down and came up with my plan. With the help of my cousins, Jessa and Raynee, we set out on July 23rd, 2012, my 35th birthday, to brighten people’s day with small acts of kindness. Some were random and others intentional but each was heartfelt.

Our first stop was Wilson Park where we hid toys for children to find while playing. I remember how joyous it felt to find a treasure when I was small. I wanted to recreate that feeling for the kids in my neighborhood so this was an important part of my giving birthday plan. We placed gifts on the locomotive, by the swings, and even at the top of the climbing wall. I wanted there to be a surprise around every corner.

After we had hidden the last toy, we drove to Dillons, a grocery store, to tape coins to the vending machines. Because my birthday is in July and we’ve experienced 115 degree days in the summer, I thought the gesture would be greatly appreciated by someone walking or biking in the area. There was a note enclosed with the change so that people would know exactly what it was there for.

Our next stop that day was a senior citizen’s home. We went in and donated Bibles and spoke to the residents about their day. The activity director was taken aback by our generosity. He loved the idea of my giving birthday and even wrote down my name so that he could thank me personally in the center’s newsletter.

The last place we visited that day was the Cowley County Humane Society. We brought in two bags full of treats and went from cage to cage feeding and interacting with the dogs and cats waiting to be adopted. This personally was my favorite thing that we did that day. The look on the animals’ faces was priceless. They felt happy and loved which made me and the girls smile.

I plan to do a lot more this year when I celebrate my giving birthday this year. In fact, I want to make each and every celebration bigger and bigger. I have so many blessings. It’s natural for me to want to share them with others. I encourage you to do the same. Start out small. Do one act of kindness on your birthday. Then gradually increase the number until you don’t have a free moment to yourself on your big day. The gift you’ll receive is far greater than one with monetary value. Trust me on this. You won’t be sorry about spending your birthday giving to others.

Charissa Struble is a freelance writer and marketer with a love for all things spiritual. She finds inspiration through travel, art, photography, and volunteering. She has written for Buzzine, Intuit, Wisebread, The Network Journal, Generation X Finance, and DisFUNKshion Magazine. You can learn more about her by visiting her site, which will be launching soon.


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