Troy woman throws birthday parties for kids she doesn’t know

Shelly Calvert of Troy holds some of the gifts donated for children whose birthdays are celebrated at parties by We Love Birthday Parties. CONTRIBUTED
Shelly Calvert of Troy holds some of the gifts donated for children whose birthdays are celebrated at parties by We Love Birthday Parties. CONTRIBUTED

Every kid deserves special recognition, she says

Shelly Calvert says there’s more to a child’s birthday party than a cake and candles.

There’s also the often-unheard message that the child is special and deserves recognition, she said.

Calvert, a Troy resident, is founder and director of We Love Birthday Parties, a five-year-old organization.

The nonprofit group’s mission is to spread love through the simple joy of parties for children who might not otherwise be celebrated.

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“I was so surprised to find out how many kids go without anything on their birthdays in our own community,” Calvert said. “The reasons are varied: some parents want to but can’t; some parents aren’t paying attention and just don’t care; and for some people it is drugs … it is just neglect.”

People across the Dayton region have persevered and banded together this year. Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of individuals who have inspired others.

While the organization’s initial years were spent throwing parties at places such as the Lincoln Community Center in Troy, the program had to shift gears for several months in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“We have had to adapt like everyone else. We had to find a way to reach these kids in their home,” Calvert said.

Among answers was using more of the organization’s birthday boxes. These canvas storage totes are filled with everything for a birthday party such as decorations, snacks, candles, cake mix, baking pan and frosting along with age appropriate toys/gifts.

The bags usually are distributed to foster parents needing support for a child’s birthday or to Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASAs, who are appointed to children through the juvenile courts.

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The organization does some fundraising using local high school and college students needing volunteer hours or just interested in volunteering wearing princess and superhero costumes for parties and other events. The costumes from the theater program at Wright State University help the students in their portrayals at parties.

They were popular this year as parents searched for a way to do something special for their child’s birthday, such as a visit by a princess on the sidewalk outside their home.

We Love Birthday Parties has a storeroom for its costumes and donated toys for all ages. It also accepts donations from foundations, organizations and individuals.

Calvert said she’s thrilled to see the nonprofit making its way and making children happy for their birthdays.

“It is my honor to let them know they are special, because they are. We all are,” she said.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

Inspire Dayton

Throughout the month of December, the Dayton Daily News will tell the stories of people who have persevered and inspired others during this challenging year. Read all the stories at DaytonDailyNews.com/inspire-dayton. Tell us who inspired you in 2020 by emailing jordan.laird@coxinc.com.

For more information, visit www.welovebirthdayparties.org. Those interested in volunteering can contact Calvert at shellycalvert15@gmail.com