We all want to be able to make a difference, kids included. That’s why my daughter, who will be six years old soon, has decided that in lieu of birthday gifts, she’d like to have her party guests donate supplies to a local animal shelter. Her entire party is going to be “kitty themed” by request, and we hope to get a lot of supplies for our favorite local no-kill shelter. If you’re interested in doing the same thing, here are some ways that you can hold a child’s birthday party to benefit an animal shelter in your area:
1. Get in touch with the shelter first. As much as you and your little one might love the idea of surprising the shelter with lots of supplies, it’s not really a good idea. Some shelters have certain supplies that they don’t need or can’t use. For example, all of the shelters in my area have more cat toys than they know what to do with, but they’re running low on dry kitten food. The shelter might also have certain brands of food or litter that they stay away from. Make sure you know what they need most so you can request it.
2. Pick out what you need in denominations. There might be kids in your area whose parents will gladly donate two hundred dollars’ worth of cat food at your child’s birthday party, and there might be kids in your area whose parents can only bring one can of Fancy Feast. The solution? Make a list of what the shelter needs, including both very cheap and very expensive goods, and everything in between. This will ensure that everyone gets a chance to donate.
3. Make invitations carefully and correctly. As always, include the date, time, and location on your child’s birthday party invitations, but also try to make it extra-clear that the birthday party is a benefit fundraiser for the local animal shelter. You might want to make the party animal-themed to highlight its purpose, and you’ll need to include a note requesting no gifts for your child, but requesting item donations for shelter animals instead. Make sure you enclose the list of items that the shelter really needs!
4. Consider crafting. Kids love doing crafts at birthday parties, so this can be a fun way to get kids involved in a neat activity while also giving them a chance to help out with your shelter donations. There are hundreds of homemade cat and dog toys that you can easily have kids make themselves at the party (just be ready to provide the supplies!). One fun option: have kids fill Kong balls and used bones with a mixture of peanut butter and crumbled dog treats, then donate them with the rest of the goodies!
5. Let your child give the donations himself. Half of the fun of having a birthday party to benefit shelter animals comes from letting your child proudly present all of the goodies that her friends brought to her party. Pick a day when your child is free and when the shelter is open, and bring everything at once. Make sure you snap a few pictures for memory’s sake before you take them to the shelter! Your child will enjoy the opportunity, and might even be allowed to feed or groom some of the animals herself.
Ultimately, your choice to hold a birthday party to benefit shelter animals is a great one, and it’s likely to stick in your child’s memory for many, many years. Best of all, you’ll actually be promoting a wonderful cause, while also instilling virtues of responsibility and gratitude in your kids. Don’t let the seemingly daunting task of preparation keep you from doing something wonderful for yourself, your kids, and the animals in your community.