Inspirational Birthday Wishes Become Doing the Right Thing

An entire community benefits as a young girl’s inspirational birthday wishes make another child’s life a little better.
By Karen Niemeier
September/October 2012
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Jakia could not stop smiling and that for the first time in the little girl’s life, she had so many choices of outfits that she couldn’t decide what to wear.
Karen Niemeier

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My 10-year-old daughter, Jenna, decided for her birthday in February she wanted to do something nice for someone. She thought about having her friends bring shoes to her party — in lieu of gifts — to donate to an orphanage. I wasn’t sure if we could come up with enough pairs of shoes to make a significant contribution, so we instead talked about finding a little girl in our area who we could surprise with Jenna’s birthday gifts.

I found Hope Community Center on the Internet, discovered the center had an outreach program for young girls, and contacted the director.

The director was thrilled with the birthday idea and told me about an 8-year-old girl named Jakia. The director thought she would be the perfect recipient.

We planned the party and sent invitations with gifts specifically in mind for Jakia, including her clothing sizes and ideas for things she may need. Jenna’s friends were thrilled to help.

The day of the party arrived, and Jakia was the guest of honor. About 25 children participated, and Jenna was thrilled to see her birthday wish become a reality.

A few weeks later, the director of the community center contacted me to say that Jakia could not stop smiling and that for the first time in the little girl’s life, she had so many choices of outfits that she couldn’t decide what to wear.

Jenna had no idea that her birthday wish would impact Jakia the way that it did. She had a desire to do something nice for someone else, and that small idea lead to something bigger than any of us could have ever imagined: It brought Jakia joy!

GRIT salutes people who do the right thing!

Share your stories of Good Samaritans, helping hands, paying it forward, and other altruistic deeds — whether you were on the receiving end or you remember the great feeling of doing the right thing. Email a 300- to 500-word article to Editor in Chief Hank Will (, and we may publish it in a future issue of GRIT. Mail articles to The Right Thing, GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. The Good Samaritan involved in each printed article, if known, will receive a five-year subscription to GRIT.

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