WESTFIELD, NJ – Westfield-based A Birthday Wish raised $40,000 Friday during the annual Wonder of Wishes fundraising event. Westfield resident Jane Hoffman founded the organization in 2014 to demonstrate to children in foster care that their life matters and that they are truly special by providing them with a birthday gift and card selected especially for them.
Attendance at this year's Wonder of Wishes was almost double that of last year's, according to Hoffman.
“It's amazing to see the community's support for children, teens and young adults in New Jersey foster care,” she said.
This year’s event was held at the new Stage House Tavern in Mountainside.
“They were incredible supporters of the event,” Hoffman said. “They offered each Wonder of Wishes guest a complimentary drink and they were wonderful to work with.”
Almost 500 tickets were purchased for this year’s event. Tickets were $35 with the option to pay for the transaction cost so that all proceeds could be donated directly to A Birthday Wish.
During the event, guests had the opportunity to purchase A Birthday Wish goods, including t-shirts and hats. Guests were treated to a performance by the Benjamins, who were scheduled to play at the Stage House Tavern that evening.
“It was great to welcome so many new attendees and sponsors this year,” Hoffman said. “The Main Event Party Entertainment provided an awesome Zing It! photo booth that our guests enjoyed all night. It was an incredible new addition.”
A Birthday Wish grants more than 1,000 wishes annually to children, teens and young adults in foster care. According to Hoffman, no birthday wish goes un-granted and there is no price limit on what children can wish for. Currently the program reaches foster children in 11 counties across New Jersey, and the organization is often asked about opportunities to open up new chapters in other communities.
The annual Wonder of Wishes event makes up about 40 percent to 50 percent of the organization’s funding, and they are hoping to organize a family-friendly event this spring, Hoffman said. The organization also benefits from other community events. This Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. A Birthday Wish will be at the Back to Business Vendor Bash held by The Social Status Co. at Indigo Art Studio at 102 Elm St. in Westfield. According to Hoffman, attendees can shop fabulous vendors throughout the evening and purchase a raffle ticket for incredible prizes with proceeds supporting their wish-granting activities.
Hoffman and her husband became adoptive parents in 2011.
“We were immediately struck by the human capacity to love and the need for all children to be part of a permanent loving family,” she said.
According to Hoffman and the organization’s website, much of the inspiration for “A Birthday Wish” came from a conversation with her three daughters.
“Children in foster care arrive in that situation through no fault of their own. They have been the victims of severe abuse, extreme neglect, many have lost parents to addiction, incarceration or even death,” said Hoffman. “They need to know that they are worthy of a happy childhood and that just when you least expect it something good will come to you. Everyone needs to know they matter.”
Hoffman said that A Birthday Wish is just one small way to say to children, "You are amazing. Don't give up hope of a brighter tomorrow."