A Worthday Box for Andrew

A Worthday Box for Andrew

Worthdays is a Richmond area nonprofit with three focus areas.

Celebrate--That every child impacted by the child welfare system in our country is celebrated on the important days of their lives surround by those who unconditionally love them.

Normalcy--That these children consistently have opportunities to feel successful and ‘normal’ through hobbies and activities that they enjoy.

Awareness--That our community is aware of and engaged in meeting the needs of the foster care system.

It was delightful to meet Caroline Neal, Worthdays founder. Here's what she had to say.

H5RVA: I already know about Worthdays because I could not get enough of the idea and went to the website and read every word when you were nominated for this High Five, but tell the rest of the world a little about what you do, and why.

Caroline: We are a new RVA non-profit that exists to ensure kids in foster care feel important, worthy and celebrated! One major way we do that is by celebrating kids who otherwise would not be celebrated on their birthdays! We like to explain it as the Angel Tree program of birthdays! We get the help of the community to sponsor a personalized birthday box full of birthday supplies and gifts to give to kids in foster care on their special day! We also celebrate other important days such as graduations, adoption days and beyond! Through all of our celebrations, our goal is to send the message to the child that 'you are so worth it'! We are just getting started as an organization and have many dreams about ways we hope to help this system in the future! Our ultimate goal is to spread awareness about the foster care system so that more people will become actively engaged in helping!

H5RVA: At any given time, how many children are in the foster care system in Virginia? Where do we even begin to help?

Caroline: Currently there are over 5,200 kids in foster care in Virginia! There are so many ways to help but oftentimes people believe if they can't be a foster parent then there isn't really a place for them to help in this system! These are kids that are classmates with your children, they live in foster homes in your neighborhood, they go to your church. There is a huge need for foster parents and there are many children right here in RVA literally waiting for a family to adopt them! But there are many other ways to get involved - bring dinner to the foster parent you know that just received new kids into their home, provide an internship for a foster youth at your local business, take donuts to the social workers working tirelessly to help kids in foster care, become a CASA volunteer or make a birthday box for a young person who may not even hear the words 'happy birthday' spoken on their big day!

H5RVA: Are you able to see firsthand the deliveries of birthday boxes? Can you tell us what an impact it has on a child or adult who doesn't have a lot of experience with the kind of love and support so many of us do?

Caroline: I, sadly, don't get to see the deliveries of the boxes to the children first hand! For many reasons, the boxes are delivered to the Department of Social Services agency that has custody of the child and they then deliver it to the child! While we would love to be able to experience the joy of delivering, we are happy that this experience is given to the social workers. These social workers have an incredibly difficult job that is often filled with heartache so this is one opportunity they have with children they work with that is filled with joy, excitement and smiles! The social workers get just as excited as the kids sometimes on delivery day which is really cool! The impact is really insurmountable and could change the trajectory of the child's life. If you can imagine - not having anyone to celebrate your birthday can be crushing to their self-worth! We really work hard to make the boxes personalized to the child and their interests so it really can go a long way to show the young person that there are kind,  compassionate people in the world that want them to feel worthy!

H5RVA: Tell us one of your favorite stories.

Caroline: It's hard to pick a favorite story because so many people in RVA, and beyond, have blessed our organization! One of my favorites is a birthday box created for a young man turning 17! Two sisters worked on this box together and rallied their network of friends to get help creating this box. We were told that the young man wanted to be a DJ and an architect. These sisters, one who owns the local cookie company 'the rule of crumb' and another who is a local drug court therapist, made the most amazing box that even included DJ equipment donated by their friend Lamerro 'DJ Diesel' Mason! They tailored all of gifts to his interests including an architect LEGO set, electronics and even a random acts of kindness box for the birthday boy to help other people! The feedback we received was priceless and the very best part of it all!

H5RVA: What are you going to do with this High Five?

Caroline: Since we are such a new organization, we are still decorating our “office” which is really an empty guest bedroom in my house! (Did I mention that we have very little overhead & no paid employees which really allows us to put money donated towards our mission!!) We will use this High Five to display as a centerpiece in the office! We will proudlybring it out on display when we are at community fairs, exhibits and events raising awareness!

Amy McCracken