Raining cats and dogs: A different kind of children's birthday party

The children who came to Adelaide's 6th birthday party didn't bring her any presents. It's a party that she'll never forget.

What the children who joined her, and her 3-year-old brother Calvin, brought to the party were cans of dog and cat food, old tennis balls, blankets, flea collars, and pig's ears. That's because in lieu of presents for herself, Addie Gardiner asked her guests to bring donations for the cats and dogs of the town where she and her family spend their summers, Falmouth, MA. The children filled three 30 gallon bins with their gifts.

The idea came from a magazine article that their mother Patti Gardiner had read. It was about a child who had a party for the benefit of her furry friends. Patti, recently retired from a 23-year career with Delta Airlines (and hence had a bit of time for creativity) suggested the idea to Addie. Three year old Calvin's birthday is close to his sister's, he liked the idea too ,and so a joint birthday party to benefit the dogs and cats of Falmouth was born.

Guided by their parents, the children sent invitations to their friends and made posters which were spread across their neighborhood. The head life guard for the pool saw the signs and brought his team on board. They would distribute the Italian ices and popcorn, run the movie, help the children draw (dogs and cats, of course) and supervise the pool. Other moms responded enthusiastically.

The evening of the party was gray and drizzly. Perhaps it affected attendance. "Only" 50 children came. From her cheerleader microphone, the 6-year-old party girl invited "cash donations for our animal friends." The bucket read, "Any donations would be purr-fect."

You can be sure that it gave Addie Gardiner far more than yet another dizzying array of Made-in-China toys. You can also be sure that she didn't "go without" on her birthday.

"That's what grandparents are for," her mother remarked, laughing.

It was the first charity event the community had ever held. It won't be last.
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