Thanks to the generosity and efforts of students and staff at St. Charles School in Hartland, 10 children in the Waukesha area will have brighter birthdays.
As part of the school’s annual Advent service project, St. Charles created 10 boxes for Box of Balloons, a Waukesha-based non-profit that was started by Catholic Memorial High School senior Caroline Wayer in August 2020.
Every box is worth about $100 and includes tableware, decor, a dozen cupcakes and candles, a birthday gift and card, party favors and a party activity. Classrooms throughout the school decorated and filled the boxes Tuesday, Dec. 21, the same day Wayer came to speak to an all-school assembly.
“I’m sure most of you can remember a few of your birthday parties and how special you felt on those days,” Wayer said to the gathered students. “However, this is not the reality for kids across the nation and even in the local Waukesha community. I hadn’t considered that people struggling financially not only couldn’t afford essential items like food and clothing, but also couldn’t afford the more special and memorable things in life like celebrating a birthday. Birthday celebrations, while a seemingly superficial focus compared to the other struggles people in need face, are very important to kids in developing a sense of self-esteem, confidence and joy.”
St. Charles Principal Dan Garvey said it was a no-brainer and that he didn’t hesitate when the idea was brought him by one of the school’s teachers.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have the reach during Advent with our service project like we usually do, due to COVID,” Garvey said. “It was really nice we were able to find Caroline — somebody local, somebody connected to our Catholic school system — to share in her special talents serving others, and (to have) our kids coordinate with that.”
Wayer said the idea to start her chapter of Box of Balloons came about during the pandemic due to lockdown boredom and wanting to help others.
“I was looking for some kind of volunteer experience,” Wayer said. “COVID is affecting so many families, so I thought this cause would be more needed in the community.”
To date, Wayer said she believes she has donated more than 60 boxes to families in need.
“I was very excited that St. Charles wanted to have Box of Balloons Waukesha be the beneficiary of their Advent service project this year,” Wayer said. “The support has been really great and I think when schools reach out to help us, it just makes it kind of seem real and (that) we’re official, and kind of established. I’m so grateful for the support Box of Balloons Waukesha has received, and thanks to St. Charles, 10 kids will get birthday celebrations.”
The community can support Box of Balloons Waukesha by directly contributing to the costs of birthday boxes, by in-kind support or by sponsoring a box in coordination with the local chapter leaders, as well as by sharing Box of Balloons with social workers, teachers, pastors and others who can contact Box of Balloons to celebrate a child. For more information, follow their Facebook page, Box of Balloons, Inc.-Waukesha, or visit boxofballoons.org/wisconsin-waukesha.
“We are called to serve and we take every opportunity we can to serve others,” Garvey said.