NJ Mom Helps Union County Foster Children Get Their ‘Birthday Wish’

WESTFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The holiday season is known as the season of giving, but one New Jersey mother has created a non-profit that lets her give back to children in need all year round.

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A Birthday Wish, founded in 2014 by Jane Hoffman, provides children living in foster care with a present on their birthday, while also raising awareness. The organization’s slogan “Grant A Wish. Celebrate A Child,” is at the heart of their mission.

“Just when you least expect it, something good can happen,” Hoffman told CBS2’s Alex Denis.

Hoffman says she finds any opportunity she can to teach her daughters what’s important in life. Recently, it’s been wrapping gifts for other children.

“We want all this stuff — but it’s actually kinda cool to give it away somehow,” Avery Hoffman, 8, said.

Wrapping gifts has become a monthly tradition for Avery and her sister — helping to stack and pack gifts for the 8,000 children currently living in N.J. foster care.

Hoffman became an adoptive mother herself in 2011 — an experience that started her down the path of giving back.

“Really opened my heart to children who are vulnerable and living outside of permanent families,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman works with court-appointed advocates, who send her monthly requests from children and young adult living in foster care. The items get posted to their website with an estimated price, and donors can click and grant requests.

Kids can ask for anything, from clothes, shoes and electronics — to gift cards and other items.

Volunteers work to host wrapping parties, while others donate supplies.

“Sometimes they bring in cards or something,” Claire Hoffman, 7, said.

Advocate Sarah Olsen delivers Birthday Wish gifts and says the recipients are always surprised.

“They’re tearing into it right away,” Olsen said.

Hoffman’s dedication has helped grant all wishes submitted by Union County’s foster care agencies. But the thought that others go without brings her to tears.

“A Birthday Wish is really about the children,” Hoffman said. “Celebrating them and making them feel good on their special day.”

For a full list of wishes and other ways to donate, visit ABirthdayWish.org.

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