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MIDVALE — It's the one day each year when a child feels special just for being born. But, a birthday can often be just another day in the life of a homeless child. Now, two Utah women have found a way to make sure every child's life is celebrated.
"Hey, I've got two birthdays right here," announces Sonya Lamb, co-founder of The Celebration Project, over the crowd of cheering kids.
Tru and Ennacence Chance were expecting their ninth and tenth birthdays to be a bit different this year. "This year, I'm with a bunch of people that I don't know," says 10-year-old Ennacence.
This summer the Chance family is living at the Road Home Shelter in Midvale. "My children will never forget their birthday at the Road Home, trust me," says Precious Rogers, the children's mother. Dad Allan Chance agrees, "They won't, they really won't forget it."
"I didn't know it was going to be all big. I thought it was just going to be one little table for all the kids," says Ennacence.
There is not a chance this party would be little. "If we can give them one good memory, hopefully that will help them get through some of the bad times," says Lamb.
"And, just seeing the joy on their faces and knowing that for two hours, they don't know where they are," is a gift to us says Ali Micek.
Lamb and Micek started the non-profit The Celebration Project to make sure homeless kids always remember these birthdays. "I really like it. It's fun. I really wasn't expecting it," says Ennacence.
Lamb truly believes the children "will remember these parties forever. We really hope they do."
"Homeless people are people and the homeless part, that's just geography," according to Lamb.
Parents and their birthday children are overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers. Nine-year-old Tru Chance says he'd like to tell all the volunteers: "Thank you and this was a big surprise."
Rogers expressed her joy, saying, "For people to want to come and give their time, that's great. They are a blessing."
Micek and Lamb feel blessed to have a community so willing to donate time and resources to this cause. "The Celebration Project takes an entire community and what we realized as we started this is that we live in the most amazing community," says Lamb.
It is a community where Big Daddy's steps up with free pizza for every party-goer and Zurcher's supplies decorations.
The volunteers get as much out of these parties as the kids do blowing out candles and opening gifts. "It's a beautiful thing to be able to involve an entire family and give back together," says Micek.
It's a memorable experience The Celebration Project wants to share with even more kids. "Our goal is to be at every shelter in Utah for every child in Utah to be celebrated," says Lamb.
If you would like to help The Celebration Project serve more children, you can donate money or volunteer to help stage parties through the project's website. The Celebration Project also needs gifts which can be dropped off at any Zurcher's location. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org