Project Giving Light Brings Birthdays to the Underprivileged Children of Orange County
Written By: Isabella Cook
Photos By: Joseph Mendoza Orange County Childrens Charity
Project Giving Light is a nonprofit Christian organization whose purpose is to bring joy, support and, of course, birthday bashes to the underprivileged children of Southern California. The founders are Harry and Kim Bagramian, a married couple who work tirelessly to make these children feel truly special on their special day. Between the amazing volunteers, dedicated school staff and the creators of Project Giving Light themselves, these children are in good hands!
B-Day Beginnings Orange County Childrens Charity
Project Giving Light’s birthday celebrations at a school in Orange County are best described as a colorful whirlwind of streamers, sweets and excited children. While most students are in class, some come to help set up tables, decorations and games for the party. Between the vigilant volunteers and the enthusiastic children, party prep is finished almost as soon as it begins and the room is filled to the brim with anticipatory birthday cheer. Even Bella, the mild-mannered dog and unofficial mascot of the school, seems to have caught on to the infectious mood as she meanders between staff, volunteers and students like a no-nonsense (if furry) manager.
Diane Estill, a teacher at a school in Orange County, describes the Bagramian couple as “saints.” She says, “So many of these children are living in survival mode and some didn’t even know when their birthday was—now they expect it!” Estill also reveals that the Bagramians help take the children on field trips, give checks in times of need and even set up an art program. Project Giving Light is more than birthdays; it’s about caring for the innocent when no one else can.
The couple hosts these birthday celebrations at three other sites in Orange County: Santa Ana, Anaheim and Huntington Beach.
Orange County Childrens Charity
Lunch hour strikes and, before you know it, the room is filling with children. They settle into groups to eat up, chat and enjoy the festivities. Daniel (12) and Danna (9), are the birthday kids for May. When asked how she feels about Project Giving Light, Danna reveals that her favorite part of the day is “the party, the food and the presents” before adding as an afterthought, “and my favorite animal is a kitten.”
Daniel seems most excited for the gift: “I don’t even know what they got me!” he says before leaving to sneak a peek at the goody bag table. Meanwhile, the other underprivileged children play games, dance and make merry in a way only children can. Harry is pleased to see them so happy: “[There are] so many kids here that need to be celebrated and loved. What we give these kids are life-changing memories—and those are permanent.”
Let Them Eat Cake! Orange County Childrens Charity
Once the fun and games are over, it’s time to dig into the two festive cakes, generously donated for the event by Nothing Bundt Cakes. After an endearingly off-key rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song and the cake-cutting, the birthday kids open their presents. Danna receives some Legos and a drone while Daniel looks happy with his Visa gift card. Everything, from the decorations to the gifts, is funded 100 percent by donations. And from the smiles on the b-day kids’ faces, the donations are being put to very good use!
Native Knowledge: Sweet and Saucy Shop also donates cakes for the children!
Orange County Childrens Charity
“Today was a success because the children are smiling,” said Kim during the after-party cleanup as she watches the school buses drive away, packed with kids on a rush of sugar and excitement. The party is over, at least until next month when Project Giving Light will be back at the school in Orange County to do it all over again.
Native Knowledge: In the last six months, Project Giving Light has celebrated over 70 children’s birthdays.
Project Giving Light
220 Newport Center Drive #11, Ste 346
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Sweet and Saucy Shop
3722 Atlantic Ave
Long Beach, CA 90807
Nothing Bundt Cakes
270 E 17th St, Ste 4
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
1170 Baker St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626