Every child looks forward to their birthday and their birthday party. Some children, however, are not able to have a festive birthday party. If that child is involved in a court case due to a custody issue or due to neglect or abandonment and they have a court appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), the GAL can help provide all the items needed for a birthday party thanks to the non-profit, Box of Balloons.

Box of Balloons will provide a box which includes DIY decorations, a dozen cupcakes with candles, a gift for the child, a party game, six party favors and decorations including balloons, streamers, tape, a birthday sign and ribbon.

The Tampa chapter of Box of Balloons is headed up by Samantha Benoit. The chapter has been active for a little over one year, and in that time, has given out 38 boxes. Benoit said, “Some of my best memories were from my childhood birthday parties. I want to do my best to make sure as many children as possible can have those memories as well.” Benoit added, “We currently work with the GAL program but are always looking for other organizations who can benefit from our organization.”

Laura Butler, a resident of Wimauma is a GAL. Butler oversees six children from three families. Butler has used the services of Box of Balloons several times. Butler said, “I have used it two times. Each box has been different and customized to each child. They were very easy to work with, and I would use them again.” Butler added, “This service shows that there are people in the world who care about kids other than their immediate family.”

This service is given to the GAL free of charge. Box of Balloons relies on funding from the community to provide a happy birthday to a child.

In addition to providing everything needed for a birthday party, they have lots of ways for the community to become involved. This includes Kids Helping Kids program, the Pledge Your Birthday program and the Build a Box program. You can even open a chapter. The Tampa Chapter currently has 50 volunteers, but they are always looking for more.

For more information, please visit www.boxofballoons.org or email boxofballoons.tampafl@gmail.com.