This year for Kate’s 4th birthday, she got a Mini Ipad from her friends, and she raised over $300 for the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH)!
Kate chose to get an Ipad because she loves to download apps and play games like “Strawberry Shortcake” and “Littlest Pet Shop”. She chose to support the MCH – from ECHOage’s list of over 250 charities – because her grandmother worked there for many years. During that time, Kate saw for herself how much the Children’s helps young boys and girls who are sick, and have to stay in the hospital.
Kate, you are an ECHOage Hero – you have made a big difference in the lives of children in Montreal who are in the hospital, and you have inspired many other children to follow in your footsteps. Happy Birthday to you, amazing girl!
Hurray for these birthday boys! Brothers, Jordan and Isaac made turning 2 and 4 extra special by supporting two incredible organizations, Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) Foundation at their recent ECHOage birthday parties.
Feeling blessed by their children, Kathy and David were looking for ways to help other families who have not been as fortunate. “Despite their overall good health, we have over the years been frequent visitors to the MCH Emergency Department and we have appreciated the excellent care our boys have received. In addition, we have always considered the Make-A-Wish Foundation to be a wonderful cause. To give a terminally ill child the opportunity to fulfill their last wish is priceless,” explained Jordan and Isaac’s mom Kathy.
Birthday present wish lists were on the sporty side with these active brothers. A basketball net for Isaac, and a bike for Jordan! Mom Kathy loved seeing her children celebrate with friends and family and shared: “The ECHOage format made the whole process easy and convenient for us and our guests. I found in the past my kids would get so many gifts that they would not appreciate them. This way they were able to receive one big gift, and they appreciated it more.”
Thanks Jordan and Isaac for being our ECHOage Heroes and for inspiring so many other families to follow in your footsteps! Happy birthday from all of us at ECHOage!
Stina Hamlin, a local NYC mom of a 6yr old girl and 2yr old boy, is heading up the New York office. A career television producer and long-time user of ECHOage, Stina approached co-founders, Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith, to head up a U.S. branch in New York City. The result is an exciting collaboration that brings ECHOage’s joy of giving AND celebrating to America! Stina’s experience in marketing, creative content production, and her status as one of the early adopters of ECHOage in Los Angeles, and now New York City, adds her expertise and enthusiasm to the ECHOage team. “I am ecstatic about being a part of a company and philosophy in which I truly believe. I have used ECHOage for my children’s parties for 6 years and have raised almost $2000 for charities they chose teaching them valuable life lessons while having fun. I am looking forward to expanding the ECHOage mission in the U.S. and NYC!” says Stina Hamlin of ECHOage NY.
Photo Credit: Toki Lee Photography – http://www.Tokileephoto.com
My son hates birthday cake. Vanilla, chocolate or marble, if it’s got flaming candles on top, he’s not having any of it. Don’t get me wrong, he loves cake. And cupcakes. And cookies. But throw on a birthday greeting and some blobs of melted wax and he’s out.
After a few wasted cakes that I’d end up eating alone, I decided he should maybe choose his own cake. Despite protestations that he didn’t want any cake, I managed to convince him that a party’s not a party without the traditional singing Happy Birthday and cutting into some sweet and sugary confection. He wandered around the bakery, carefully examining each cake before finally choosing a gussied up cherry cheesecake, dripping with FD & C Red No. 40.
We sang. He blew out the candles. We passed around the cake. He didn’t eat it.
And then he ‘fessed up: he wanted me to make the cake. So the following year I did. And the year after that. My two other kids have hopped on the bandwagon as well. If it’s not a homemade birthday cake, they’re not interested. Now I do cakes: instant cakes, cookie cakes, ice-cream cakes. Sprinkle cakes, cakes with fun fonts, cupcake-cakes.
Expectations run high. Each cake has to be better, tastier, and grander than the one before. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to take the pressure. I’ve already warned them my repertoire’s nearly maxed out. But they don’t believe me. And on I bake….
Let them eat cake? Not my boys. They’re not interested. Unless it’s a homemade extravaganza the likes of which they’ve never seen before. Next year I’ll be throwing a fistful of candles onto a cheese pizza. Let them eat pie.
How does it work?
Loved by busy families, ECHOage is an online birthday party website with a charitable twist. Instead of your average paperless invite, after customizing their invitation, kids choose a charity. Guests are then invited to make a contribution. Half of the funds raised will go to the charity of the child’s choice, while the other half goes towards super-fabulous birthday presents.
Co-founders Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith wanted to modernize the birthday party experience. They were done with spending more time searching and shopping for birthday gifts than hanging out with and enjoying their kids. They didn’t want to be the Scrooges of birthday parties, but it felt like the birthday party madness was getting out of hand. So they made a commitment to making parties more rewarding for the kids and less work for the parents. By combining the good feelings of giving with the fab feelings of receiving, they knew they were on to something.
Meet Leo: A five-year-old birthday hero
Leo was always an animal lover. Stuffed animals, zoo animals, or farm animals, if it was furry and had four-legs, Leo was ready to take it home. His first word wasn’t Mom or Dad, it was “doggie”. In fact, the only thing he loved more than dogs (and tigers) was his birthday. When he had a chance to put the two things he loved most together, he leapt at the opportunity.
For Leo’s fifth birthday, he and his parents decided to ECHOage his party. Leo was excited to do something different — and make a difference.
How one family made the ECHOage experience their own
For Leo’s parents, throwing their son an ECHOage party was a no brainer. Together, they uploaded a picture of Leo and chose a blue soccer themed invitation. Then they checked out the carefully curated list of local and national charities. And what a list it was! Leo couldn’t believe how many there were to choose from: SickKids to Make-A-Wish, Best Buddies to Children’s Aid, to Indigo Love of Reading Foundation and, of course, animal charities, like WWF, Jane Goodall Institute, and WSPA Canada. Every charity on the list spoke to him in a meaningful way.
The charity part
After careful consideration, Leo chose COPE Service Dogs, an Ontario-based organization dedicated to empowering communities through the use and training of service dogs. Kids struggling to get through high school help train puppies to become service dogs. They visit hospitals, nursing homes and classrooms with the dogs. Once the dogs are fully trained, they’re placed with people with mobility issues and other challenges.
Even at five years old, Leo knew this charity was important: kids working with dogs to help other people really resonated with him. He couldn’t wait to be a part of it.
The gift part
Once the charity was chosen and the invitations emailed, Leo and his parents were able to track who was coming to his party, and how much money they were raising for their charity — and for his super special gift. Other birthday parties had brought with them the usual pile of presents. Some wanted, others, less so. They still had gifts leftover from previous birthdays and holidays. Leo’s mom, Carolyn, knew that all her son really wanted was a drum kit. A real drum kit, not the “kiddie” kind.
By combining all the guests’ contributions she’d be able to buy him the dream gift she’d never have been able to purchase on her own. Instead of a slew of toys that might completely overwhelm her son, he’d be getting the one present he really, truly wanted.
The big day arrives
On the big day, Carolyn had her guest tracker handy complete with phone numbers, special concerns, even allergy alerts. Parents arrived relaxed, knowing the birthday gift was taken care of. And, of course, the playing field was leveled as each guest privately contributed to Leo’s charity and his present. No boxes big or small, nothing to cart back to the car — or to return. Just birthday cake and happy faces.
Happy kids, happy parents
The party was a huge success in every way. As one guest noted, “we just needed to RSVP and show up! Instead of spending hours wandering the aisles in search of the perfect present — at the perfect price point — everything was taken care of. What a relief.”
The kids had a great time, while all the parents loved how simple the entire ECHOage process was. Leo may have been the first one in his gang to ECHOage his party, but judging from the parents’ grateful reactions to such a convenient party, Carolyn knew he definitely wouldn’t be the last.
The celebration continues
When Leo returned home, he found a shiny new drum kit waiting for him. He couldn’t have been happier. Carolyn received a friendly email from ECHOage reminding her to thank her guests and to close her party. With a click of her mouse, she was done. A few days later, a cheque arrived in the mail. When Leo saw it, Carolyn explained that the same amount had been sent to COPE Service Dogs.
Leo’s face lit up. “Mommy”, he said, “I feel like a hero”. And he was. At five years old, Leo had learned what it felt like to make a change. It felt different. Amazing. Special. His party was a blast, but the whole experience was a life changer. When asked about it later, Carolyn exclaimed, “once you go ECHOage, there’s no going back”.
The news spreads
Word on the street spread. Leo told his pals all about his cool party and his awesome drum kit — just in case anyone missed the pounding bass sounds coming from the house! Sure enough, a few weeks later, Leo received an ECHOage invitation of his own, the first of many more to come. The simplicity of planning, the joy of giving and the fun of getting what kids really want sparked something in his friends and classmates. For Leo, his family, and their friends, ECHOage really was a better way to celebrate!
For her 10th birthday, Amanda got craft supplies and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada got $72.50!Posted: April 8, 2013
When we think of the reasons why we are most proud of ECHOage, children like Amanda come to mind. This girl made turning 10 extra special, and she did it so easily with ECHOage. At 10 years old, Amanda loves to sew and make jewellery. It is her hobby and she really enjoys making things for other people. She chose sewing and jewellery supplies for her birthday because she will need more supplies in order to make more fabulous designs. But that is not all…Amanda chose to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada because her grandmother has had Crohn’s since she was a little girl. In Amanda’s words: “I want to make sure that anyone else who has Crohn’s gets good treatment like my grandmother has.” Happy Birthday special girl! You have made our day, and you will certainly inspire many other children to follow in your footsteps. Thank you, Amanda!
What an amazing girl! Avital chose to support Child Find of America because she wanted all the children of America to be found (if they were lost) and to be able to go back to their parents. In her words: “I would hate it if I were lost and nobody found me.” She chose a Tablet for her gift because everyone else in her house could play games and text their friends but she couldn’t. Again, in her words: “I wanted to be able to text my friends and play the same games they are playing.” The best thing about her party? Swimming with her friends. Happy Birthday from all of us at ECHOage to an amazing girl.
Zach is a champion in our eyes. He raised $1000 at his birthday party for his birthday gifts and supported the charity of his choice. His gift was Skylanders Giants and Zach says he loves playing with them: “They just came out with some amazing new characters.” His charity was Jacob’s Ladder – an organization founded on the love parents feel for their children. We asked Zach how he felt about his amazing contribution: “I love to help other kids and like to give to children that need things. I go to the same camp as Jacob, from Jacob’s Ladder, and I wanted to help his charity.” Even more special, Zach said that the best part of his birthday party was being with his friends. Way to go Zach! You are compassionate boy at age 7 – Happy Birthday Champ!
JACOB from Jacob’s Ladder with his family
For Kyle’s 9th Birthday he got Halo Mega Blocks and a Kindle Fire. The Association to Benefit Children got $102.50.Posted: February 3, 2013
Kyle feels good when he helps other children. That is why he chose to support The Association to Benefit Children for his 9th birthday party which he celebrated at the beach with friends and family. “When mom read me the different charities on the ECHOage site, The Association to Benefit Children sounded really good because it helps abused and neglected children. It is sad to think about kids being hurt and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.” While helping children, Kyle also got the birthday gifts he has been dreaming of: A Kindle Fire and Halo Mega Blocks. “Halo is one of my favorite toys! I wanted a tablet because it’s cooler than a phone, and there are apps and fun things I can play on it.” Kyle told us that it makes him feel very good inside to know he helped other children. Kyle, it makes everyone at ECHOage feel good inside to know you’re leading the way for a new generation of kids who will celebrate their birthdays while thinking of others. Happy Birthday, special boy! You turned 9 and made a real difference in your world.