Naperville woman donates 123 birthday bags to pantry
Loaves and Fishes CARES has a fresh stock of birthday bags full of goodies thanks to one Naperville 34-year-old.
To celebrate her birthday, Kate Schultz collected 123 bags of supplies for hosting a party to donate to the food pantry in a third annual project she calls Let Them Eat Cake.
The pantry gives out the bags to help the people it serves throw parties for their children, even if they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford themed supplies like decorations, party favors, invitations, thank-you cards, balloons, streamers, plastic cutlery, paper plates, cake mix and frosting.
"There's no better feeling than dropping off two car loads full of birthday bags and knowing kids will have the chance to celebrate their wonderful, unique selves with their friends and families," Schultz said.
She started the Let Them Eat Cake project in 2014 as a way to turn memories of a challenging time in her life -- her 25th birthday -- into something that can bring others happiness. Three weeks before Schultz turned 25, her mother, Ricky Houlihan, died of cancer.
A handful of years later, Schultz wanted her birthday to gain new meaning, so she ran a food drive in conjunction with Loaves and Fishes' annual Day Without Hunger. By 2014, the effort had grown to focus on birthday supplies. She donated 65 bags that year and 106 in 2015.
This year many of her colleagues at the city of Naperville, where she works as a communications specialist, participated. The police department donated several complete bags and added some spare change to the bottom of them. The fire department alone gave 26 of the 123 bags she collected. Further afield, she even got a donation from Sweden via an old friend who's involved with a dance camp there.
Most of the bags come with a theme, like "Star Wars," "Finding Dory," princesses or superheroes for kids with different preferences.
"A birthday is a chance to celebrate all the joy a person brings to the world, and I want kids to have that chance to celebrate," she said.
Pantry staffers told Schultz the bags could be gone in as little as a month, as Loaves and Fishes gave out 1,500 of them last year.