Since she was 8 years, Mikki Steddum has donated her birthday presents to children who needed them more than she did. It’s a family tradition that started with her older siblings.
So, when Mikki turned 11 this week, she once again re-gifted her birthday presents.
Mikki, a fifth-grader at Hillcrest Elementary School in Enterprise, celebrated her birthday party at the Enterprise VFW this past weekend. There was a 70-foot inflatable obstacle course. And, of course, there were presents. For a few hours prior to the actual birthday party, her family even invited any child who wanted to play on the obstacle course to do so by simply bringing an unwrapped gift for a child their age.
“It was good and fun,” Mikki said. “We had popcorn. We had a ring toss and the big blow-up obstacle course.”
This year, the gifts are being donated to a program at the family’s church in Enterprise, the Church With U. The program, called Giving U, will use the donations to provide birthday and Christmas gifts to families in need.
“There were arts and crafts things and also toys,” Mikki said.
Guests also gave gift cards and cash so Mikki could go out and add boy items to the collection.
The tradition of donating birthday gifts started with Mikki’s older siblings – who are now ages 24 and 22. They started it at age 9 and were allowed to choose how their gifts would be donated, said Katrina Steddum, Mikki’s mother. The kids would either donate the gifts they received or collect items for the local animal shelter.
“They started it because the house was just overrun with toys that we really didn’t need anymore,” Steddum said. “The oldest one started it, and then we just kind of passed it down. With Mikki, we had said she would start doing it at age 9 and she actually opted to start doing it at her eighth birthday party.”
Steddum said none of the kids resisted the idea of giving their birthday presents to others. Choosing how the birthday gifts would be donated gave them some ownership.
“They pretty much know if they wanted something at some point they were going to get it whether it was for their birthday or Christmas or just a random time,” Steddum said. “If they wanted it and it was reasonable, they’d get it.”
Donating birthday presents, however, hasn’t necessarily cut down the toy clutter in the Steddum home, but Steddum said she thinks the practice has been good for all of them. Once, Mikki even collected toys from her bedroom for a classmate who lost all of their toys in a fire.
“All of the kids have a tendency to want to make sure other kids have stuff to play with and things to do,” Steddum said. “… I think this definitely helps them give back to the community.”
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