Beverly’s Birthdays provides ‘cheer kits’ to help students celebrate |
Penn Hills

Beverly’s Birthdays provides ‘cheer kits’ to help students celebrate

Submitted by Mishelle Rayburg
First-grader Ehreion Bates celebrates her birthday Sept. 22 at Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship.

Mishelle Rayburg and other teachers at Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship now have some help making sure kids in their classrooms are treated to a proper celebration on their birthdays.

“I used to go out myself and buy birthday crowns for all of my students to try and make the day as special as possible,” Rayberg said.

Then the Pittsburgh nonprofit Beverly’s Birthdays joined the party by starting its Classroom Cheer program three years ago. Penn Hills charter is one of the schools in the Pittsburgh area that receives “cheer kits” from the group. The kits contain things to make students — many from poor families that can’t afford a celebration at home — feel special at school on their birthdays.

Beverly’s Birthdays was started in 2011 by Megs Yunn with the goal of raising money to help homeless kids in the Pittsburgh region celebrate their birthdays. Classroom Cheer was part of the program’s growth, co-director Josh Whiteside said.

The kits are delivered to more schools and include more now, he said. Crowns, capes, pencils, notebooks, badges and bracelets fill the kits, all intended to draw attention to the student on their birthday.

“The program targets fifth grade and under, where it’s still cool to do things like this,” Whiteside said. “It’s my dream that every single teacher, fifth grade and under, will have one of these kits one day.”

The organization last year distributed 500 cheer kits, each kit serving 30 students. A $10,000 grant from Target bolstered the program.

“We would love to grow the partnership with Target not only from a financial standpoint, but with supplies from them as well,” Whiteside said.

The Education Partnership — a Pittsburgh nonprofit providing students with supplies — helped Beverly’s Birthdays identify which schools had the most in-need, low-income students for the Classroom Cheer program.

“The program is a tool in these districts to be able to recognize these young children’s birthdays where otherwise that may not be possible,” Whiteside said. “This creates a level playing field where every student is getting recognized in the same way.”

Rayburg isn’t the only one who welcomes the help.

“I think financially it makes the parents feel better,” Rayburg said. “There was one little girl that said she didn’t get anything for her birthday because her mom couldn’t afford it. Watching her little smile light up at school here was awesome.”

Christine Manganas is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.