Local charities Service International and Annie’s Hope recently received a very special gift. Crestwood Elementary fifth graders, 10-year-old twins Evan and Tate Jenkins, wanted to share their birthday presents in the form of donations.
For the third year in a row the brothers have invited their birthday party guests to contribute to charities, rather than give traditional party gifts. When guests arrive at the party, they can donate to two organizations that the boys have selected.
The idea came about three years ago when the boys were having such a big party that their mother, Julie, wanted to do something else besides get a ton of gifts for themselves.
“They were right on board,” Julie said. “The next year they asked me what we were going to do for the charity.”
This year, Evan and Tate chose Service International and Annie’s Hope. Evan said that they choose charities based on whether they have worked with them in the past, and this year they had a special connection to both charities.
"We live in Sunset Hills, and the January tornado missed our house by less than half a mile," Julie said. "Evan and Tate wanted to give to SI because they knew about SI's recent disaster relief work in their neighborhood."
The Jenkins family had a close friend die who received assistance through Annie’s Hope, which is a bereavement center for children who have lost close loved ones, so that charity was first on this year’s list. Julie said that the family has nothing but nice things to say about Annie’s Hope.
The boys raised $445 for Service International and $570 for Annie’s Hope, and now it looks like Evan and Tate have started a trend. They've recently received party invitations from friends who are doing the same thing.
“Since we’ve been doing it, our friends have started to say they are gonna do it too,” Evan said. “They say ‘Good job’ and it makes me feel cool.”
After receiving the donations, the boys visit donation recipients and hand-deliver a check. Evan said that it’s fun going to these new places and meeting the people who work there.
Julie said that they most they have received as a birthday gift is a generous $100 donation.
“It’s been received wonderfully. They got a handwritten note from the superintendent of schools (Jim Simpson) and State Representative Mike Leara sent them a letter too,” Julie said. “Somehow the word is spreading this year. We’ve gotten three or four invitations from mothers saying they are going to do the same thing.”