Delaney Hall, 12, of Lebanon, Ill., a seventh-grader at Amelia V. Carriel Jr. High School, has held donation drives for a variety of charities to celebrate her birthday over the past five years. When her mother asked Delaney what she wanted for her eighth birthday, she said she “wanted to help dogs” because she had been inspired by a family friend who volunteered for an animal shelter. So Delaney asked her birthday party guests that year to bring pet food and supplies for Gateway Pet Guardians in nearby St. Louis. “It felt so great when I delivered all the food and supplies that I decided to do it again,” she said. Only the next year, and every year since, Delaney picked a different charity to devote her birthday to. “I feel like every year the charity I donated to needs the stuff more than me,” she said.
Each year, Delaney researches local nonprofits, selects one with the help of her mother, and then contacts the organization to learn about its specific needs. One year she collected fabric that was made into blankets for a children’s hospital. One year she collected more than 2,000 pairs of shoes to help pay for a well in India. For another birthday, Delaney picked a shelter for homeless pregnant women to support. And last year, she spent seven months raising more than $5,500 to make and purchase games and toys for abused and neglected children staying at a nearby residential facility, by planning a “hat day” at school, hosting a trivia night and silent auction, and clearing tables at restaurant fundraisers. “It makes me feel good to know that I am making a difference in someone’s life,” said Delaney.