“While there are more than 20,000 children in the Missouri foster system, there are about 220 of these at-risk kids in Carter, Howell, Oregon and Shannon Counties,” said Shannon VonAllmen, executive director of Birthday Blessings. The organization collaborates with Missouri Children’s Divisions and other community-based nonprofits to get resources to the kids.
“In 2013, we started in Howell County by sending out birthday party supplies and wrapped gifts in paper shopping bags. As we learned of other gaps in funding, we began to offer other services targeting unmet needs. The next step was to provide duffle bags and backpacks so kids didn’t have to move from home to home using trash bags. They deserve something more dignified to carry their belongings,” VonAllmen said.
The nonprofit eventually expanded from their base in West Plains to cover 23 counties and outgrew their workspace. A West Plains resident learned of their need for more room and donated the use of a building for the next few years while the organization raises funds for a permanent home.
In 2021, the organization sent 164 birthday party bags, 97 duffles or backpacks, 23 Easter baskets, 20 seasonal care packages and 7 graduation gift bags and two baskets of household goods to foster children in Carter, Howell, Oregon and Shannon Counties.
The 501c3 organization provides these services through donations from individuals, businesses, civic groups and foundations. They receive no government funding. They have been locally supported by West Plains Community Foundation and the West Plains Optimist Club.
“I often hear people say they wanted to do something to help foster kids but couldn’t become foster parents. They didn’t know how else to help. Birthday Blessings gives compassionate people an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children,”
VonAllmen stated. “Our annual Birthday Bash is a great way to double the impact of donated dollars.”
Rachelle Frey has been volunteering with the organization for years and currently serves on their Board of Directors. She is also a licensed professional counselor who is experienced in dealing with emotional trauma.
“Birthday Blessings has created a culture, through faith, of using every single resource to meet the specific and unique needs of every precious child they have the honor to serve. It is only through the collective effort of every single person who choose to give, that these children and young adults receive an added level of support,” Frey said.
The non-profit will hold their match event March 29 through April 2. A donor will match up to $10,000 in donations during this time. They will also host an open house at 603 Oregon Street in West Plains from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. on April 1 and 2.
Checks postmarked before or during the event will be counted and can be mailed to Birthday Blessings, 429 Aid Ave, West Plains MO 65775. Visit www.birthday-blessings.org for online payment options. For more information, call 417-372-5306.
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