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Teens help hundreds of children celebrate their birthdays through Birthday Box Initiative

Posted at 11:27 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 23:28:02-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Birthdays only happen once a year. Teens in Independent Health Foundation's Student Peer Advocate Program are making birthdays possible for 300 families.

The bags will go to children of the mothers the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network helps. CEO LuAnne Brown said many of them are single mothers who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

“Everyone should have their birthday celebrated, and sometimes our families, they are not given that option,” Brown said.

The Buffalo Public School sophomores in Independent Health's program spent Thursday afternoon packing bags with decorations, chalk, bubbles, crayons, coloring books, cake mix, and more.

Brown said the bags are about more than just goodies. She said staff will often go to the homes and help the family bake the cake.

“We like to talk to the families about making memories, and you know this is something, it’s kind of an extravagance that a lot of them do not have the money to do this,” Brown said.

Independent Health Foundation Executive Director Carrie Meyer said the program trains students to become health advocates in their schools and communities.

“We want them to have that voice, we want to train them to be leaders in the community. They’re the next generation, so we want to make sure they’re set and ready, and that they’re resilient adults,” Meyer said.

The students raised $3,000 to fund the the Buffalo Prenatal-Perinatal Network's Birthday Box Initiative.

“We know that it’s a struggle for families financially right now, during this pandemic, so we decided to make these bags to make it more like functional for these families," said Independent Health Foundation Student Peer Advocate program member Emily Lorenz.