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Teen helps foster youth with non-profit

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Lizzie Allison, 15, always had a passion for helping orphans and foster children, but quickly realized she was too young to make a difference. That was until she found a way to help by creating her own non-profit.

Team Celebrate helps celebrate foster youth, one birthday at a time. Their mission is to mobilize volunteers and partners to celebrate foster youth through the magic of birthday parties.

The idea all started while she was doing research.

The young El Dorado Hills resident learned that with all of the struggles and hardships foster kids go through, they don’t even get their birthdays celebrated. Allison created Team Celebrate as a way for kids like her and other volunteers to spread joy and happiness to kids in foster care.

With the help of volunteers and donors, Allison creates birthday boxes. She includes all of the essentials to throw a birthday party including decorations, games, snacks, a box cake and frosting, a handmade card and a birthday present. She gives these birthday boxes to kids living with foster families, and she also throws monthly birthday parties for foster kids living in group homes.

Allison’s first birthday box went out in May of this year.

“So far we have made 25 birthday boxes. Right now we are serving six- to 18-year-olds,” she said. “We will do any age that needs a birthday.”

How it works is she will receive a birthday request from one of her partners, and her volunteers will create a box themselves, she said. These partners can be high schools, churches and other organizations.

“The response from the kids has been all positive,” Allison said. “They love it. I was just at the Sacramento Children’s Home dropping off boxes and one of the volunteers said this has brought the kids so much joy and happiness. One of the kids said it makes them feel special and that is our goal – to make these kids feel special, unique and celebrated.”

Allison said her favorite part so far is not just seeing the positive feedback, but to see the difference it is making for the volunteers.

“I feel it is opening their eyes. I have always had a birthday party, but opening my eyes, a lot of kids don’t have that,” she said. “I love coming together to celebrate these kids who need hope and joy in their lives.”

Allison said the birthday boxes are very easy to make, as well as being very cost efficient.

“I think it makes a huge impact, but in a very easy and tangible way,” she said. “Even just a card that says, ‘I’m thinking of you; you’re special,’ can make a huge difference in these kid’s lives when they're struggling.”

Currently, Allison is looking to spread the word and partner with local volunteer groups, schools, clubs, churches and families. She recently teamed up with National Charity League El Dorado Hills to create multiple birthday boxes.

 "The needs and wishes of foster kids are often overlooked when they shouldn't be. Being able to give a foster child a unique birthday is really important. I can't wait to watch Team Celebrate grow and help foster kids feel special. This is going to become something incredible.” said Shelby, 15, NCL volunteer.

Team Celebrate is currently serving the Sacramento Children’s Home, Lilliput Families, Sierra Forever Families and Koinonia Families.

For more information, to sign up to make a birthday box or to volunteer at a group home party, visit teamcelebrate.org, @teamcelebratesac on Facebook, @teamcelebrate on Instagram or email Allison at Lizzie@teamcelebrate.org.

“As we grow our volunteer base, we will be able to celebrate more and more kids,” Allison said.