Local mom and marketing consultant Libby O'Regan has always thrown big birthday celebrations for her children, who are now 8 and 10 years old.
Now, she is determined to do the same for local children facing adversity - whether they have physical disabilities, learning disabilities or their families simply can't afford to give them parties.
For years, O'Regan, owner of Libby O Marketing, has wanted to start a nonprofit organization to provide free birthday parties to deserving children. With COVID-19 pretty much shutting down the world, she has finally had time to work on making that dream a reality. Her new organization is called The Celebration Projects.
"I just love birthdays," said O'Regan, who has lived on Hilton Head since 2003. "My kids are really lucky. They've had a lot in their life, and I just feel like other children deserve something similar."
O'Regan said there are several great local organizations addressing real needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. While birthday parties aren't a necessity, they certainly bring joy to a child's life. O'Regan said birthday parties can also bridge socioeconomic and racial gaps, promote inclusion, curtail bullying and create memories that will last a lifetime.
The home page of her website, thecelebrationprojects.org, states its vision: "We believe something as simple as having a birthday party can change the course of a young person's life."
The inspiration came after O'Regan's friend, Amanda Spencer of Spencer Special Events, attended a wedding conference years ago and met the founder of The Birthday Party Project. The Texas-based organization hosts mass birthday parties for homeless children.
O'Regan's organization is a little different, in that the parties she will host will be for children facing various challenges, not just homelessness. Her organization will also throw parties for individual children, not groups of children.
While O'Regan does not know when big celebrations will be able to happen due to the pandemic, she is getting her ducks in a row for the time being. The Celebration Projects is currently awaiting its official nonprofit status.
Local businesses, including Spencer Special Events, Ronnie's Bakery, Ranco Event Rentals, Smarty Pants Photography and photographer Donna Von Bruening, have committed to donating products and services for the parties.
Now O'Regan wants to find children in need of birthday parties. She has been networking with local schools and nonprofit organizations, such as The Children's Relief Fund and The Deep Well Project, to find those children. People can also nominate children on her website.
Once a child is approved for a party, organizers will work with the child to plan his or her special celebration. The party will include activities, entertainment, food, drinks, cake, decorations, gifts for the birthday child and party favors for up to 30 people.
To donate to the organization or to nominate a child, visit thecelebrationprojects.org or email O'Regan at email@example.com.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.