Brightening Birthdays

Host a birthday party for children staying at our shelter!

There is no better feeling than bringing the kids their birthday cake and seeing their face just light up!

Kathy P, VOA Volunteer

As part of our Brightening Birthdays ™ initiative, we hold monthly birthday parties complete with cake and presents for children and families who are experiencing homelessness. Those experiencing unstable housing issues often miss out on the celebrations most American families experience together, especially birthdays, and Brightening Birthdays ™ helps change that. 

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We hold monthly birthday parties on the third Thursday of every month for children staying at our Guest House Emergency Family Shelter at 175 Ward St. Rochester, NY 14605.

How this works:


You and/or your group volunteer to host one of our monthly parties, meaning you get to make this event special for the birthday kids. You choose how to decorate the room, what activities and games will be played, the type of cake, and presents! 

Preparing for this is like bringing a birthday party in a package to set up at the shelter. Most people bring:

  • Cake and/or cupcakes and candles
  • Birthday themed plates, napkins, table cloths and silverware
  • Balloons, banners, party streamers, birthday hats
  • Presents and goodie bags with crayons, activity pads, bouncy balls, etc. (no candy/playdough please!)
  • Juice boxes
  • Crafts and games like pin-the-tail or a speaker for musical chairs

Party Schedule:

5:30 PM – Volunteers Arrive & Begin Setup
o Decorate the room with balloons and decorations.
o Set up arts and crafts, games or other activities such as face painting/temporary tattoos.

6:00 PM – Volunteers Facilitate a Craft Project
o Face painting and temporary tattoos available for children once they are done crafting or if they don’t want to craft.
o Decorate and fill goodie bags with fun items such as bouncy balls, activity pads, crayons, colored pencils, tattoos, small games, stickers or sunglasses (no candy or playdough please).

6:30 PM – Game Time
o Typically Bingo, freeze dancing, pin-the-tail, musical chairs or keep up the balloon.
o Volunteers set up cake during games.

6:50 PM – Cake
o Sing Happy Birthday while birthday children gather around the cake.
o Volunteers serve cake and juice to everyone.

7:00 PM – Children Open Gifts

7:30 PM – Wrap Up
o Birthday children (and/or volunteers) handing out goody bags to all the children.