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All I Want for Christmas Is a Birthday Party…

Released 10 January 2014

Princess Birthday

All I Want for Christmas Is a Birthday Party...

Meeting Needs Thanks to Your Support!

HARTFORD – The Salvation Army is blessed knowing that through the support of people like you, we can meet needs year-round. What follows is the story of a birthday party, made possible by a miraculous series of “angels” that started with one individual.

Charmaine Waul, who works at nearby Trinity College, recently visited The Salvation Army’s Marshall House Shelter to deliver winter coats and clothing that she and her colleagues had collected. What was intended to be a brief tour and donation drop off turned into much more. Charmaine was so moved during her visit that she came back the very next day with bags of toys for the children in the shelter. Her generosity, however, did not stop there. As it would turn out, she would not be the only one to help.

One of the families that especially tugged at Charmaine’s heart was a single father and his nine-year-old daughter, Princess, who had recently come to Marshall House when faced with homelessness. When asked what she wanted for Christmas, Princess replied, “Let me go home and get my list…” Staff was curious what “home” Princess was referring to. Princess left the room and quickly returned with her list in hand. As it turned out, she had now considered Marshall House to be her "home." This nine-year old girl then shared her list, emphasizing the one thing she wanted most-urgently was a "green scarf." She also asked if her gifts could be given to her for her birthday on December 26th, rather than on Christmas.

As staff learned, the significance of this request was that although her mother had always promised her a big birthday party, it never came to fruition because her mother was never around when her special day arrived. This year, Princess thought it would be different!

Lynn Naughton, Director of Operations for Marshall House, promised Princess that she would have a birthday party. Learning about this special Christmas wish, Charmaine let Lynn know she would provide balloons for the party and anything else that was needed. Having accompanied her on the tour, Rachael Bubbs, Donor Relations Assistant for The Salvation Army, was also moved and said she would personally fulfill Princess’ birthday wishes.

Princess Birthday

When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Princess’ father responded simply that he wanted a haircut for his daughter’s birthday party. While heading to the barber, their car ran out of gas. Blessed by a generous passerby, Lauren Dziekan, the car was refueled, at no charge, and the father went on to get his haircut, no charge, by Rick Golding of Prostyle Barber Shop. For her party, Princess also got her hair done at Domincana Salon, and not only did the hairdresser donate her services, she also gave Princess a tiara. She was really beginning to feel like a Princess now.

Rachael returned to Marshall House the next afternoon with gifts. Guessing the green scarf was of significance to Princess, she gave her this gift early. Princess perked up at the sight of it and gave Rachael a hug. She then promptly took the scarf, turned, threw it around her father’s neck, and exclaimed “Merry Christmas Daddy!”

Lynn completed the birthday wish by personally shopping for the largest of the wishes for Princess’ big day. While in the checkout line, she struck up a conversation with the shopper behind her. She told him a short version of the story behind the gift. When the cashier gave the total, Lynn heard a voice next to her respond, “I got this.” Shocked, Lynn asked for his information to thank him, but he just replied, “It’s from Santa.”

Princess Birthday(The decorated dining room.)

Meanwhile, back at Marshall House, staff, donors, and other shelter families were busy decorating with bright pink decorations and a poster of a princess. Dr. Miguel Colan of Connecticut Chiropractic Center, when hearing of Princess’ wish, got her a cake. A dress had also been donated for Princess to wear on her special day. The generosity seemed to be multiplying with every new act of kindness.

When it came time for the party, Princess was overcome with wonder and surprise when she finally entered the room. Tears of joy streamed down her face as she looked around at the beautiful decorations and warm smiles on everyone there. She certainly had never experienced anything like this before in her lifetime. Everyone at the shelter – staff and residents, attended – it was a party! Marshall House provided milkshakes and plenty of treats. Princess was so grateful that she personally passed out goodie bags for everyone there.

Princess Birthday(Princess and her father.)

After the birthday party was over, her father, still amazed, responded, “I am simply overwhelmed. It was so beautiful. This was by far the best birthday I have ever experienced. Thank you to all of the moms at the Marshall House and Ms. Lynn.” These moms he referenced are some of the mothers of other families at the Marshall House who help him care for Princess like she is one of their own.

“I felt honored and privileged to be able to spend time with The Salvation Army and its Marshall House and to make one little girl’s Christmas dream come true,” said Charmaine.

The Salvation Army is extraordinarily thankful for those who help us make miracles every day. Whether responding to a natural disaster or hosting a birthday party for a little girl, we at The Salvation Army want you to know our gratitude for the many ways you make our services possible for people who need hope and encouragement during some very dark times in their lives. This story is a testament to what can happen when good people come together to help others.

Together, we will make 2014 a year of hope and possibility for the discouraged. We pray that you have a happy and healthy New Year!

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