For many of us, memories of our childhood birthdays include parties, gifts, and making a wish as we blew out the candles on a special cake, surrounded by our loved ones. Seems like a pretty typical birthday for a kid, right? But that’s not every child’s experience.
In September 2013, a youth involved with the Project Everlast Omaha (PEO) council mentioned to PEO’s Schalisha Walker that he’d never had a birthday cake on his special day. Schalisha then started asking around with other council members and found that special birthday treats were few and far between for many of the young people. So she sprang into action, and the “No Youth Without a Birthday Treat” initiative was created.
Through the initiative’s Facebook page, Schalisha is able to line up volunteers each month to help make birthday treats to celebrate each young person’s special day. Volunteer bakers within the community, both amateur and experienced, bring the treats to the office to share with the young people.
Treats range from fancy decorated cakes from the store to homemade-with-love cupcakes decorated by the entire family. It’s one of the things Schalisha loves most about the initiative – seeing how passionate the community volunteers get about making the special desserts. “It wouldn’t be possible without them,” Schalisha says.
Since 2013, more than 100 cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and other desserts have been delivered to young people celebrating birthdays. The initiative has even expanded in the past few years: Volunteers now sign up to bring dishes for a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for the Omaha council’s holiday gathering and cookies for new families on National Adoption Day.
When asked about seeing a need, thinking outside the box, and creating an effort, Schalisha said “It’s the least I could do to help them feel special. They are so happy getting the cakes. I felt like I did something.” To see photos of all the fun, visit the “No Youth Without a Birthday Treat Initiative” page on Facebook.