Homeless Teens Need Happy Birthdays, Too

Park Cities NCL moms, daughters use drive-by to collect gifts

Since 2001, mothers and daughters in the Park Cities have worked together to give back to their communities as members of the National Charity League (NCL).

They foster relationships through community service, leadership development, and cultural experiences. However, lately, much of the organization’s philanthropic efforts have been thwarted to follow COVID-19 pandemic social distancing procedures, forcing the Executive Board members to develop creative ways to give back while staying safe.

“It gives us hope as it can seem like a dark time right now, and we all need a little bit of hope no matter where we are.”

Becky Gould

The Birthday Party Project – a philanthropy partner of Park Cities NCL that provides homeless children with parties and gifts for their birthdays –has struggled to serve as efficiently as in previous years without the ability to throw birthday parties. 

Park Cities NCL co-vice president of philanthropy Becky Gould, instead, came up with a new way of giving back this year while still staying safe: a drive-by. 

President Sherri Owen, along with this year’s executive board members, recently gathered outside of University Park United Methodist Church (UPUMC), where members could drop off donated birthday gifts for teenagers affiliated with the Birthday Party Project.

“We came to realize that most people like to give gifts to the younger aged children,” Gould said. “The teen boys and girls don’t have as many gifts on their shelves, so we really wanted to flood that age group with gifts that our own children would like to receive.” 

Around 200 mothers and daughters came to the event, donating over 400 gifts, including items such as blankets, books, and sweatshirts.

By the end of the drive-by, the number of gifts donated was not only the largest collection of gifts for teen boys and girls ever made to The Birthday Party Project but also the largest donation the nonprofit has ever received from a single event. 

“Park Cities NCL has a huge generous heart and a huge drive to give back to the community,” Gould said. “I think that celebrating the day of your birth is one of the most important celebrations that we have all year long. It gives us hope, as it can seem like a dark time right now, and we all need a little bit of hope no matter where we are.”

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Shaye Wattson

Shaye Wattson began her senior year at Highland Park High School in August and returned to campus on Sept. 9.

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