Birthday Party With Purpose For 13 Year Old

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It started with a Limo ride! The girls were picked up from school in style by a black stretch limo from G & A Limousine Service. Stocked with sodas and sparkling water (the girls all still ordered beverages when they were whisked through the drive through at Taco Bell) there was an air of excitement from the moment the car arrived. The sheer delight of being in the car without any parents and getting to order whatever they wanted at the drive thru was perceived as a big treat! The parents followed the limo to the various locations with cell phone access to the girls (and the driver) and were on hand to doll out cash and credit card payments as needed along the way.

The logistics at the drive thru were somewhat comical due to a car slipping between the parent car and the limo and engendering quite a bit of confusion for the Taco Bell crew who had been asked to “bill us for our order and the car behind us.” It was easy to sort out, but none the less, it was pretty funny. For those people not in our area, you may want to have a look into, Find Washington DC limo Service as they have a large fleet of cars of your choice!

Photo of Toby in the grass.

Toby, the Terrier Mix rescued from Best Friends pictured at his new home.

Over the course of party planning discussions, we discovered that our Birthday girl had recently adopted a dog from the Best Friends Animal shelter in Mission Hills, California and that the girls on the guest list also had close ties to dogs. Some girls have dogs, others foster animals, volunteer, or care for pets as pet sitters or dog walkers. One girl is even planning to become a veterinarian someday. Enter The Make It Count Project.


The box with materials and instructions arrived about a week before the party. Image links to the project we chose.

I had just been to a meeting where I was introduced to Amy Brown and her company which brings charitable acts to the goody bag. I absolutely loved the idea and when I explored her website, I discovered a couple of options that fit our scheme perfectly! The idea is that party guests actually participate in creating the party favors which are then donated to charity and guests go home with a good feeling and a small token of appreciation. Taking stock of the number of nail polishes and lip glosses that clutter the shelves of tween aged girls’ rooms, it didn’t take more than a minute to decide.

When I pitched the idea to the team, the Birthday Girl was immediately onboard and knew exactly where she wanted to donate the dog toys that her guests would assemble. They really wanted to get some good quality, toys that will never break, perfect for every playful pup! There are several choices provided by Amy’s company, including stuffed animals to create and donate to a Children’s Hospital (another choice, close to our hearts). I was thrilled that the concept was met by so much enthusiasm and hope that you are inspired to check it out because this idea is so rich!


Here is the sample of the dog toy we received in the box.

It was decided the next stop for the rolling party would be a shady park located between the Taco Bell near school and Best Friends Animal Shelter where Toby was rescued just a month prior to the party. When the girls arrived at the park, the table was set with a place for each of them to create their own dog toy. There were instructions in the box along with an example (shown above).

The toys were so cute, some of the girls wanted to keep them for their own pets. However, when they saw the party favor they would each receive for their participation, there were no hold outs.


Peace sign bracelets were presented to each girl as she placed her lovingly hand made dog toy into the donation box.

The only skill required to complete the toys was a little commitment and the ability to braid. For 13 year old girls, this turned out to be right in line with their interests and abilities.


The girls are proud of the dog toys they made! It feels so good to give.

Also included in the box was a note to the Birthday Girl and the special gift of a dog blanket for her to keep for Toby. I’m not sure if that is a regular part of the service, but it was the perfect touch – extremely thoughtful and thoroughly classy.


Toby is in love with his dog blanket. These are also available to make and donate.

Next the girls would pile back into the limo and head up to the Best Friends Animal Society Shelter while the parents would gather the box of dog toys and toss the fall out from Taco Bell in the trash. Easiest party clean up in the history of parties AND no heroic pre-party cleaning sessions or set up at home! At the shelter the girls were met by the Manager, Michael Carmen and volunteers who not only gave them a tour, but allowed the girls to individually deliver their gifts to the grateful dogs.


Best Friends is a No Kill Shelter that commits to the animals in its care for life.

We love this party concept because there are so many winners! For the parents, there is very little prep and the cost is about the same as a swim party at home. There were a few phone calls to make, letting the shelter know of the planned visit and getting permission to bring the donation, arranging for the limo and creating an ordered map with the addresses and phone numbers of all locations, including the guests’ drop off destinations. Minimal set up and clean up at the park, with the added benefit of no mess at the house when the party was over. Cost for the limo for 3 hours was $199 (+ gratuity of 20% or more), party favors/project about $100 (minimum, depends on the number of guests) plus “catering” by Taco Bell $55.


The girls without a dog of their own were especially grateful. There was an overwhelming desire expressed to volunteer.

The Birthday Girl turning 13 years old gets to be the bell of the ball! Having your friends picked up from school in a Limo is a great privilege. This group of girls excitedly dressed up for school on the day of the party and brought shorts to change into in the car while on their way to the park. The had the freedom to act like kids, to act like adults, to have some freedom, play their music, eat junk food and then nurture the community by doing something selfless. The emotions visible in these girls while they visited the shelter were strong and kind. You could feel their hearts swell as they had the opportunity to contribute something meaningful.

Then of course, the community benefits by the ripple effect from the good will demonstrated by the girls’ act of charity. The shelter benefits from additional awareness and the dogs, the dogs feel the love and attention that they so deserve. I’m so appreciative of all of the components and people that came together to execute this party plan, but I’m especially delighted by the heart and mind of Amy Brown and her company The Make It Count Project. It’s this kind of inspired entrepreneur that is making the world a better place for all of us.


Back to the limo for a ride home. Each girl is delivered to her doorstep and the Birthday girl goes out to dinner with her family.

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Birthday Party With Purpose For 13 Year Old — 15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Party Planning? | encinomom

  2. What a great idea!!! I had the opportunity to volunteer at an animal shelter one summer, and it was the most rewarding time of my life!!! Shelter animals are in need, in a desperate way…of not just love, but blankets, toys, treats, scratching posts, etc. The best animal as a pet, should always come from a shelter!!
    • Hi Kristin,

      Thank you! It never occurred to me that shelters needed toys and blankets and such! We loved partnering with Make It Count to give the girls the sense of accomplishment and warmth that giving toys to the shelter animals provided.

      Thank you for your service and commitment! We LOVE our rescued pup!


  3. Thanks for the reply to my last post! I really applaud your teen birthday party, that makes a difference for others…not just the “birthday girl”! Thank you for giving back to the shelter animals! I volunteered at a shelter last summer, and they do get some donations, but they are very scarce! Even the kitty litter that we changed, was only allowed 2 scoops of new litter in its place, for the cats…and that is just enough to cover the bottom of the tray!!!
    • Hi Kristin,

      Thanks! We love Make It Count. They can do custom crafts for guests to donate and even have gifts for hospital bound children. It’s such a small effort and as you know well, it feels so good to help!


  4. I love reading this post! A 13-year old with a purpose, and a cause!! To help shelter animals would be my number 1 priority!!! Also, I love the bracelet’s the girls received!
    • Hi Kristin,

      The girls loved the bracelets, too. After they made the toys for the dogs, the thought crossed their minds to keep them for they’re own pets. The bracelets helped them let go. Then when they saw, with their own eyes, all of the animals without homes, they couldn’t wait to surrender the toys. Some of them even volunteer at shelters now.

      Thank you for all you do!


  5. Where did you pick up the materials to make these toys for the dogs? What material did you use? Did the girls just braid them together? I am asking, because I am at home full-time and would love to do this a few times a year, for shelters! Please let me know. Thank You!!!
    • Hi Kristin,

      All of the materials and instructions were provided by Make It Count. Here’s a link to their web page with the dog toys. They have changed the design slightly: (not an affiliate link). The material appeared to be a poly fleece cut into strips and threaded through a tennis ball and knotted. You can purchase online. The kits range in price, but run around $100. Maybe you can contact the shelters and get a few others to do this with you. Your donations are tax deductible (although, I am NOT a tax authority of ANY kind! Please consult a tax professional for confirmation or advice on your particular situation.) If you were to make these yourself, you should be able to find suitable fabric at any JoAnn’s.

      Good luck,

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