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A Selfless Celebration

I was surprised when I received a birthday card in the mail from my friend Jenny. This was her birthday month, not mine. Even though I moved out of state years ago, I still missed our friendship and especially our epic birthday celebrations – the day trips to local areas, impromptu parties, and a victory birthday dance on the tennis court during a tennis tournament.

Inside Jenny’s birthday card was a check and instructions. She was celebrating her 70th birthday by sending several of her friends a check for $70. The money was mine to spend on a favorite charity or a worthwhile person. That was just like Jenny to think of others.

In 2021, in our community, there were numerous local charities and people that needed assistance. Many lost jobs due to the shutdowns of restaurants and hotels. There were residents who needed groceries and their pets needed food. Our hospital had many young patients, often isolated from family members.

This project became my mission to celebrate Jenny’s birthday. I decided to be observant about where the funds were most needed and get the money to that place or person quickly. When I received an appreciation for a donation, I would let the charity or person know it came from Jenny. In addition, I matched the $70, so that the amount was now doubled.

Our county food pantry asked for donations to “January is Soup-er Bowl Month.” I enjoyed shopping and selected a variety of cans of soup at the grocery store. As I dropped them off at the site, I included a note explaining my donation was in honor of my friend.

When my husband Tim and I ate out at our favorite restaurant, the owner was attentive and kind as usual. We knew she worked long hours just to keep her business open and care for her two special-needs children. I told the owner about my friend’s birthday and left an extra tip. She said, “What a generous idea that your friend wanted to reach out and help others on her own birthday!”

Because Jenny loved her dogs and cats, I donated items to the local humane society in her name. I received a wonderful note from the director of the shelter in appreciation of giving in their time of need. Since my cat Speckles was due for a checkup, I let the veterinarians know I wanted to support their clinic with extra funds in my friend’s name.

During the holidays, a teacher collected toy donations in memory of her son who passed away. All the toys went to the children’s hospital where he spent his last days. Jenny was overjoyed to know that her birthday funds were used in such a worthwhile children’s project.

When I finished my mission of donating all the funds, I mailed Jenny a birthday card. Inside I included a note about all the charities, people, and pets she helped. All of the generosity was made possible through her selfless celebration. I can’t wait to celebrate my birthday in the same way.


  1. Pretty amazing to read how many Jenny touched with just her card to you. And how it doubled and helped more people than she could possibly imagine! Even today she is touching people, a friend and I, because we read your story and are sitting here with goosebumps at the mere possibilities when we just reach out to offer encouragement. Jenny’s idea has also put a spark in me to do the same. Wonderful how pebbles can cause lovely ripples in the water.

  2. Jenny, is my sister, and when she wrote me about her 70th birthday project I got pretty excited about it. I was just sorry my 70th had passed already to do the same.

    I did jump in and was able to double the money to give to a friend of hers who was helping support another family. Jenny had her eyes and ears open to many needs all around her and had given me several suggestions.

    I am very proud of Jenny for coming up with this thoughtful way to celebrate her birthday and know she has blessed many people and hope she has felt the love in return too.

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