Carys Allison turned 7 Jan. 20 and celebrated by giving gifts instead of getting them.
Carys' mom, April Allison, who has worked in social services for eight years, said she sees "what struggling parents need," and felt that forgoing birthday presents could be a "life lesson" for Carys.
Allison said when she suggested Carys ask for charitable donations instead of birthday presents, Carys was "a little unsure at first."
PHOTO BY KAREN KIN
The FISH Pantry is associated with Tiffin-Seneca United Way.
Carys said she "thought it over and knew it was going to help people."
Allison said she did a Google search for food banks in Seneca County and found FISH, a food pantry associated with Tiffin-Seneca United Way that serves the needy.
She said when the birthday party was planned, she suggested on the invitations that donations for FISH be given instead of gifts. The family decided to focus on collecting health and beauty items, such as shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, mouthwash and tissues, among other things.
While some people still brought gifts for Carys, Allison said, many FISH items were brought for the party, and the family collected enough to fill eight bags to donate.
Allison said there was "a lot of positive feedback from parents."
One friend of the family, she said, liked the idea enough to try it herself and hosted a similar party in March.
She said the Allisons "plan to do it every year," not only for Carys, but for her two younger brothers, starting when they each turn 7.
Allison said she feels younger people often don't understand the real cost of everyday living and providing even for simple necessities. Many, she said, live with a sense of entitlement.
She said she hopes by helping Carys and the rest of the Allison family approach every day with an attitude of service and selflessness, they all will learn not to "take things for granted."