A Van Buren girl is collecting clothes and shoes to donate to the Children’s Emergency Shelter in Fort Smith in lieu of presents for her eighth birthday.
Havah Weisenfels, a second grader at King Elementary School, has opted to accept clothes for needy kids instead of receiving gifts for herself during her birthday party at Van Dr. Louis Peer Memorial City Park from 3-5 p.m. Saturday.
Havah’s mom, Jessica Weisenfels, said her daughter was not prompted but decided on her own to take donations instead of presents.
“I kept explaining that she might not get any gifts this year, but she said she had enough, and kept pushing to do a donation drive instead,” Jessica said.
Havah got the idea, she said, while watching the Disney Channel at home. A TV break told a story of a child collecting shoes to donate to needy kids in Africa, and Havah told her mother she wanted to do the same.
“She’s always been a generous kid…I’m awfully proud of her,” Jessica said. “She will send friends home with some of her most prized possessions - she’s done that more than once.”
Jessica encouraged Havah to make her donation to area kids, and they decided to include both clothes and shoes in the drive, she said.
“I asked some of my friends to bring older clothes that don’t fit them, and also clothes they don’t like very much,” Havah said.
After hearing that the kids shelter in Fort Smith may be suffering because of the recent government shutdown, Havah decided to make it the benefiting charity, she said.
“Some of the kids that go to my school, they don’t have what I have so I’m feeling really good to do that,” Havah said.
While the idea was originally for those invited to Havah’s party to bring donations, the invitation has now been extended to the entire community.
Anyone who wants to help are welcome drop off donations and enjoy a cupcake, Jessica said.
“People aren’t always comfortable to attend a party for a child they don’t know, so they are welcome to just drop off an item,” Jessica said. “But of course they are welcome to stay as well.”
While Havah said she’s not concerned if she doesn’t get any presents, she knows some of her “close, close” family will probably get her something.
“It was impossible to tell the family don’t buy gifts for her,” Jessica said, but added that there will be a separate event specifically for family.