In honor of her eighth birthday in February, Grace Bienstock invited her friends and family to celebrate the birthdays’ of children in New Jersey foster care.

Grace, a second grader, at Wilson Elementary School, decided to forgo the usual mountain of birthday gifts. Instead, she asked friends and family to make a donation to A Birthday Wish, a local non profit organization started by Westfield mom Jane Hoffman that grants the birthday wishes of children in New Jersey foster care. Grace raised $1,230, enough to grant the wishes of over 30 children.

Grace’s mom, Olivia Broad said, “Grace was inspired to raise money for A Birthday Wish after younger brother Luke granted the birthday wish of a child in foster care for his birthday last year. She was upset to learn that some children in foster care don’t receive a gift on their birthday.” 

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Each month, A Birthday Wish donors grant the birthday wishes of children and young adults in foster care across New Jersey. Wrapping parties are held throughout the year, volunteers wrap each gift and include a card with a special message. Partner organizations provide a list with each child under their care and exactly what they are wishing for.

A Birthday Wish has presented children with a variety of gifts including dress-up clothes, American Girl dolls, action figures, Kindles, sporting tickets, bikes and gift cards. Since its founding in 2014, A Birthday Wish has raised nearly $50,000 in gifts and in-kind donations and granted well over 600 wishes. They have partners in eight New Jersey counties, with the ultimate goal to grant wishes in every county in New Jersey.

The idea of having children share their birthday with a child in foster care has really taken off.

“Children are asking their birthday guests to consider making a donation to A Birthday Wish in lieu of gifts, sometimes kids even forgo a party in order to grant wishes. We find that kids have very big hearts and really want to help make the world a better place ” said Hoffman. 

“The mission of A Birthday Wish is to let children in foster care know that they are special and celebrated on their birthday. An important byproduct has been to teach children about the transformative power of kindness. It’s never too early for children to positively impact the lives of others.”

To learn more about A Birthday Wish, visit their website at www.ABirthdayWish.org.