The OC Non-Profit That Brightens Children’s Birthdays
A young girl was transferred to yet another foster home the day she turned 12 years old. As it dawned on her that her last four birthdays had gone uncelebrated and forgotten, her eyes welled up with tears—until her new foster father surprised her with a birthday box. Birthday Box Underprivileged Children
The gift box, ornate and festive, and packed with toys for a girl her age, was from Project Giving Light, a non-profit organization. Founded in 2017 by husband and wife Harry and Kim Bagramian, Project Giving Light delivers memorable birthday parties and gifts to homeless and unstably housed children across Orange County and beyond.
“I felt like these children were not being celebrated.”—Harry Bagramian Birthday Box Underprivileged Children
Initially made up of the Bagramians and their two young children, Project Giving Light had small, humble beginnings. The idea was born after the couple spent time helping children deemed homeless by the county at Skyview Elementary. “I felt like these children were not being celebrated,” Harry Bagramian explains, noting the obvious difficulties of their life circumstances. “For some reason, it just hit us. We, too, had children who were young, and I said, ‘I think these kids need to be celebrated on their birthdays.’”
“For some reason, it just hit us. We, too, had children who were young, and I said, ‘I think these kids need to be celebrated on their birthdays.’”—Harry Bagramian
Over the last four years, Project Giving Light has celebrated over 1,500 kids on their birthdays. Their most formidable endeavor over the last eight months has been their new birthday box program, which permits volunteers to fill decorated, corrugated boxes with items for boys and girls of varying age ranges. Once filled, volunteers can send them directly to Project Giving Light, and their team will deliver to one of their many locations all across California.
While the efforts of many non-profits have been at a standstill during the pandemic, Project Giving Light has defied all odds by expanding, providing desperately needed PPE (personal protective equipment) like N95 masks and sterilized gloves to Orange County hospitals as well as establishing a monthly grocery store gift card program to help over 100 local families. “We’ve been trying to be adaptable, agile and as helpful as we can to local families during these difficult times,” Bagramian explains.
“We’ve been trying to be adaptable, agile, and as helpful as we can to local families during these difficult times,”—Harry Bagramian Birthday Box Underprivileged Children
With the help of their biggest partner, the Orange County Foster Care Agency, Project Giving Light was successful in giving 200 birthday boxes to children in August of 2020 alone. “We’ve heard such great feedback from some of the social workers. It really gives you perspective on what these kids are dealing with on a daily, weekly or yearly basis,” Bagramian adds.
To address the rife and pressing issues of poverty, Project Giving Light has extended their outreach to the city of Los Angeles. They’ve partnered with Union Rescue Mission, Hannah’s Children’s Home, and have taken their services up north, working with San Francisco City Impact, where they sent 150 more birthday boxes in the month of December.
Thus far, a key to their success has been consistency. “In our experience, consistency breeds authenticity,” he says.
Following the same ethos, Project Giving Light aims to give these kids a consistent, loving experience on their birthday, and the only way to make that a reality is through the consistent donations and volunteer hours of others. “We want 2021 to be a year of explosive growth,” Bagramian explains. “Our goal is to give 7,500 boxes by the year’s end, but there is no reason why it can’t be 20,000 and we can’t get boxes sent all over the country.”
“Our goal is to give 7,500 boxes by the year’s end, but there is no reason why it can’t be 20,000 and we can’t get boxes sent all over the country.”—Harry Bagramian
According to Bagramian, donors and volunteers contribute not only to giving these underprivileged children hope and happiness today, but also to creating enduring memories for them in their future. “No matter our circumstances, all of us can look back on the good and the bad things that have happened to us, but when someone or something impacts you in a meaningful and significant way, that changes you and makes you feel loved. That’s what we know we are delivering for all of these incredible kids,” Bagramian adds.
To volunteer or donate, visit their website at www.projectgivinglight.com.
Project Giving Light
220 Newport Center Dr #11, Ste 346
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Photography Provided By: Vu Bui at LR Creative