Birthday Blessings, which provides birthday parties to homeless children, recently received more than 8,000 books donated by First Book-Charlotte and Barnes and Noble South Park. The non-profit, which has been enormously successful since beginning just a few years ago, was started by a Mint Hill couple. Here’s the press release:

In the past three months, local nonprofit Birthday Blessings was gifted a record-breaking 8,350 new books. Its good fortune started with a grant of 6,000 new books from First Book-Charlotte, and was capped off with a holiday book drive held by Barnes & Noble SouthPark, which raised a total of 2,350 books from its customers.

With a national ratio of one age-appropriate book for every 300 children living in poverty, Birthday Blessings, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that celebrates the lives of homeless children, aims to include one new book in every birthday gift package provided to the homeless children it serves, while also providing books as party
favors during special celebrations across the nine area shelters it currently serves.
Said Amy Cervantes, volunteer executive director and co-founder of Birthday Blessings: “For children
experiencing homelessness, it goes beyond strengthening literacy; reading a book is also about giving them
an outlet where they can be transported away from everyday struggles through stories, characters and

During past book drives, Barnes & Noble SouthPark collected, at most, 600 books for various local
organizations, making this holiday book drive a record-breaker, despite a down economy. Signage and books
were placed at each register for a two-month period of time, allowing enthusiastic Barnes & Noble associates
to share Birthday Blessings’ mission with each customer. Many holiday shoppers responded by purchasing
and donating their favorite books, knowing their beloved stories would soon be in the hands of homeless
“With everybody struggling, I think people really do try to be generous. I think that spirit is really with us this
season, which is really wonderful,” said Judy Harper, Barnes & Noble SouthPark community relations
manager. “I would like to continue this next year.”
“We are grateful to First Book-Charlotte for their generous grant, and to Barnes & Noble SouthPark for
choosing Birthday Blessings as the recipient of their holiday book drive. This is proof that even when times are
down, giving goes up,” said Cervantes.

Plans are in process for the nonprofit to organize a “Gift of Literacy” library room at the organization’s facility in

To date, Birthday Blessings has celebrated birthdays for more than 950 local homeless children, bringing joy
and support to thousands of needy youth and families across the greater Charlotte area. Birthday Blessings
was founded in 2005 by Charlotte couple Amy and John Cervantes. The nonprofit currently serves nine
homeless facilities and programs across Mecklenburg, Union and York counties, as well as homeless
elementary and middle school students throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The organization
continues its local expansion, and will begin serving Cabarrus County in 2010 through a partnership with Smart
Start/Cabarrus Partnership for Children. Birthday Blessings recently launched a national expansion program,
with affiliate chapters getting under way in northeast Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia.

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