Thursday’s here at The Main Street Mouse are usually the night where we share a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) story with you. With 2015 wrapping up in a few short hours, I thought it would be nice to end the year by focusing on the positive. Tonight’s RAK article originally started with a desire to share an amazing magical Disney related moment with you, but after a bit of research it turned into so much more! I truly hope that tonight’s RAK leave you with the same sense of surprise and joy, as well as a desire to help, as it did for me.
This week a video of Police Officer Jonathan Natoli belting out “Let It Go” with a little girl starting going viral in Virginia. The video of Officer Natoli and Birthday Girl Ameyah Walton was filmed by the Founder & Executive Director of a nonprofit organization celebrate!RVA Julia Warren. The video of Officer Natoli and several other volunteers getting their “Elsa Dance and Sing On” was then shared on the celebrate!RVA’s Facebook page. When I saw this video I knew it was something Main Streeters would appreciate as it shows how our First Responders can kick back, and enjoy themselves while trying to help make positive memories for children. I called celebrate!RVA to get permission to share the video with you and got a little background on this magical moment:
The video was taken at one of celebrate!RVA’s December birthday celebrations. The event started with Offier Natoli and other volunteers arriving to celebrate the birthdays of children who usually aren’t able to experience a birthday party of their own. Officer Natoli arrived at the party in his patrol car, ran the lights for a moment to the excitement of the children, and then proceeded to join in the fun. As the party went on he noticed a young lady names Ameyah who was being a bit shy, as “Let It Go” came on he started to sing along in hopes she would participate. The rest is viral video history thanks to Officer Natoli and birthday girl Ameyah!
As I mentioned earlier, this article started as a way to share that wonderful and special moment, but after speaking to Julia to get approval to share their video and story, it became so much more. While speaking to Julia I learned that celebrate!RVA is a non profit organization in Richmond Virginia, that like Disney has a easy to understand policy about birthdays and magic. They have “a simple mission: to give disadvantaged children in Richmond, Virginia a memorable birthday celebration in a safe and fun environment.” While speaking to Julia, I inquired what her role was with celebrate!and discovered she was the Founder & Executive Director. As we continued to speak about the mission of celebrate! how wonderful the project was, and how people could help, I asked if she was originally from the Richmond area. This is about the time where my jaw hit the ground, my heart grew twelve times in size, and the Disney crying went silently into effect. While speaking to Julia I was originally under the impression I was speaking to someone in their upper 20s to mid-30s. Imagine my surprise when I found out she is a 20-year old double major at Randolph Macon. As I attempted to keep my quiet Disney crying in check, I asked Julia what made her create celebrate! and what it’s purpose was.
Photo by Steven Inge at www.stevenandlilyphotography.com
Growing up in Richmond Virgina, Julia was fortunate enough to have a mother who saw the importance of celebrating birthdays and other key life moments and successes. Julia realized that every child wasn’t provided the opportunity to have a magical and special birthday, and because birthdays have always been special and about love and celebration to Julia, she decided to change that. She felt that every child should know the joy of a birthday party, and she decided she wanted to give them the magic of that moment. Then a Junior in High School, Julia approached a local school with her idea and asked if there was a need in the school to have local businesses and community groups of host a monthly birthday party for the children of the school. Celebrate! then started hosting free birthday celebrations at local Salvation Army facilities, safe houses, even the local jail. With the help of local municipal and business groups, celebrate! hosted an almost combined total of 1000 birthday parties over the last 2-3 years. The project has taken off with the support of Julia’s friends, family, volunteers, sponsors, and her Sorority Sisters. Julia predicts that in 2016 alone they will celebrate 1000 birthdays! To say I was honored to be speaking to such a motivated young lady is an total understatement. When I got off the phone I messaged Michele telling her about the amazing call I had just had, and I am sure she heard the tears of happiness I had managed to get under control in my voice.
Main Streeters, here is where YOU come in to this RAK.. As we all know Disney Magic is about love, creativity and celebration. Everyone loves celebrating their birthday at Disney, and many of these children may never see the parks in person, but my friends, we can send Disney magic to THEM! For the end of 2015 and the start of 2016 I would like to personally challenge every Main Streeter to at some point in the next 12 months help an under privileged child celebrate a birthday be it at home, or through celebrate!RVA. There are several ways you can help celebrate!RVA:
1. Sponsor a child’s birthday! Share a little magic by sponsoring one child’s birthday for a mere $15.
2. Do you have spare unused party supplies take a look at the organizations wishlist and feel free to send those items in! Or do you just have a desire to purchase some super cute Disney party supplies that you recently saw at the store but had no upcoming party to use them at? Feel free to get those adorable supplies and send them in!
You can mail party supplies to celebrate!RVA P.O. Box 17812, Richmond, Virginia, 23226.
3. Send cards! You can purchase or make cards to send to celebrate! Cards can be decorated on 8.5×11 paper and have any child friendly happy birthday saying you want on them! Cards can be mailed to celebrate!RVA using the same address you would to send supplies to.
4. Volunteer. If you live in the Richmond area, or have friends or family that might like to get involved with making sure every child knows the joy of blowing out a birthday candle, contact celebrate!RVA about volunteering!
I want to leave you in these final hours of 2015,with a quote from Julia’s blog about celebrate!RVA‘s. This is one of many posts by Julia that brought Disney celebration and magic tears to my eyes as it made me see how truly wonderful this organization is, and how magical Julia is. I hope that this quote properly expresses to all of you how glad I am that I decided to research a Frozen Sing-a-long RAK, because it truly resorted a lot of faith that I had lost in the world over the last few months. I also hope you accept my challenge to help a child have a moment of magic in their lives in 2016!
“At our party this month, we celebrated 63 children. 63 lives who were the given the chance to celebrate their special day. 63 mouths who got to blow out a candle, and 63 hearts who got to make their special wish.”
Photo by Cardinal Rose Photography
Photo and Video Sources: www.stevenandlilyphotography.com, Cardinal Rose Photography, celebrate!RVA