- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
When Madisyn Allen of Chaptico had a party for her eighth birthday this month, she received:
Four packs of flashcards
16 packs of paper
86 pairs of flip-flops
64 glue sticks
Seven bottles of glue
30 pairs of scissors
162 colored pencils
Two eight-packs of watercolors
Three packs of pencil lead
Five pencil sharpeners
And it was just what she wanted.
This year, instead of having a princess-themed or Justin Bieber-themed birthday party as she’d had in past years, Madisyn requested a “giving party.” She asked the approximately 75 people, friends and their families, who attended her party to bring flip-flops and school supplies for children in Africa instead of bringing toys for her.
Madisyn, a third-grader at Dynard Elementary School, got the idea after listening to her mother, Amber Allen, talk about a mission trip to Africa that a friend from Lackey High School went on recently. Amber graduated from Lackey in 1998 and her husband, Justin Allen, graduated in 1995. The trip was with School Angels Ministry, based in Nanjemoy. As part of her trip, the friend delivered school supplies and flip-flops to children in that country.
The idea caught Madisyn’s attention.
Amber said she talks to Madisyn and her younger brother, Mason, 4, about having a healthy perspective on things and the value of giving to others.
“We try to teach our kids that we take care of our things, but [our things] don’t define who we are,” Amber said Wednesday.
And when Amber gets out the checkbook to write a check to a charity, she takes that opportunity to talk to her kids about people who are in need ... “compassion,” Amber said.
So, when Amber asked her daughter what kind of birthday party she wanted this year, Madisyn said a “giving party.”
It is a family tradition for Madisyn’s grandmother, Darlene Ryan of Lexington Park, to make a fancy cake for her granddaughter’s birthday. Each year, she, with Madisyn’s help creates a cake that matches the year’s party theme.
This year’s cake was made up of a series of hearts that were decorated in flip-flops. “Who know[s], maybe my granddaughter’s idea will influence others to do the same,” Ryan wrote in an email about Madisyn’s party.
Amber said her daughter was pleased with the gifts brought by her guests. “She was so elated with all the supplies; she was just so thrilled,” Amber said, adding that the party guests were excited about the amount of donations, too.
“Awesome,” Madisyn said, when asked how the party went. “I want to do it again because it was really fun.”
After the party, Madisyn sat down with her mother and recorded all the supplies they had received. “She said, ‘Can you imagine how many kids this is going to help?’” Amber said.
“I feel very blessed to have her.”