Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted. Like having a birthday cake with candles to blow out. Or a birthday present to open.
The Wagner family of Brodheadsville got to thinking about that last year as they were preparing for one of their own birthdays.
"Birthday parties are fun," says Grant Wagner, 11. He and his brother and two sisters look forward to celebrating their special day each year with a birthday treat of their choice and maybe a special outing, with a present or two.
"We had become aware that some kids in our children's school were getting lunches at reduced rates because of their families' low incomes. We got to talking about how our family is so fortunate and started batting around ideas of how we could make a difference in somebody's life when it was their birthday," says Nicole Wagner.
They thought about how sad a child would feel if their parent could not supply cupcakes to bring to school on their special day. Or how sad it would be when somebody asked what they were doing for their birthday and a child had to answer, "nothing." Or how a parent has to choose between buying milk or bread with nothing left to help their child celebrate their birthday.
Nicole's husband, Grif, says they wanted to do something to give back to the community.
"Especially at this economically difficult time. We should all stick together," he says.
"I like to decorate cakes. My original idea was to get teenagers together, teach them how to decorate a cake and then donate it to someone for their birthday. But we didn't know how to go about getting people to come forward with the fact that they were in financial need. So instead we came up with the idea of buying a cake mix, frosting and a gift card to buy a present as a birthday package. Then we donate it to local church pantries," says Nicole.
To involve their four children, Samantha, 13, Grant, 11, Joshua, 8 and Elizabeth, 7, they are collecting aluminum cans. Their dad takes the cans with him to New York, where he works for the Long Island Railroad, and can get $.50 a pound.
The Wagners are asking everybody to donate their aluminum cans to them. You can drop them off at their home or call them and they will come pick them up.
"It this thing takes off, we have a vision of involving area churches and businesses to donate their facilities to hold birthday parties," says Grif.
The Wagners believe it can make a difference in lives. It's free and easy. Recycling aluminum cans helps celebrate a child's birthday and helping the environment.
Samantha came up with a name for their project-"Cans for Cake."
"It's a win-win for everyone. It's the way America use to be. We're just trying to bring it back in our own small way," says Grif.
(If you would like to donate your aluminum cans or help in anyway to make a difference in a child's life, call the Wagners at (570) 992-9292.