While their kiddos enjoyed a playdate, the Bay Area’s Melissa Smith and Shani Hall let their own imaginations take hold, eventually planting the seed for Party In-Kindness. The organization helps people turn any occasion into a reason to give. “We encourage the host to include a giving component to their event by asking guests to bring in-kind and/or monetary donations to support local charities in the East Bay area,” says Smith and Hall. “No matter the size of the function, we help bring the individual, their private gathering and a charitable purpose together.” Here, the friends and co-founders discuss Party In-Kindness’ Love for Local fundraiser and how parties can still give back in the time of Zoom birthdays and virtual weddings.
What prompted the start of Party In-Kindness? It all started when the thought that sometimes our small, everyday actions can make the biggest impact on another human being without even knowing it. Melissa experienced this firsthand when her daughter was undergoing surgery at only six days old. Someone she did not know knit a lavender hat for her daughter, and she wore that beautiful hat throughout her recovery. The warmth of knowing a person could have that kind of selfless generosity touched Melissa’s heart forever and she knew one day she would pay it forward somehow.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with Party In-Kindness? What about the biggest challenge? Giving back and helping others really brings joy to our lives. It is also rewarding to see people be inspired by our acts of kindness and then want to get involved. Many think that it takes so much to make an impact, but we show donors how easy and fulfilling it can be to give back.
The biggest challenge this year is not being able to gather as a group in order to facilitate parties that give back. When donors had parties, their guests would bring donations for various causes. Additionally, our main fundraising event, our annual Power of Kindness event, and family volunteer events, which encourages giving at all ages, had to be cancelled due to COVID.
How do you pair the party host with a charitable recipient? We have had the honor of meeting and working with various charities in the Bay Area. A donor comes to us to organize the giving component of their existing party. We find out what cause the donor is passionate about and match them with a charity that is the best fit. We ensure what the charity is in need of and tailor what guests bring to the party. We then pick up and deliver the donations.
Tell us about the Youth Volunteer Board and how you are creating opportunities for high school students to get involved. This is an exciting opportunity for high school students to make an impact. The board is meant to empower youth to create and execute giving projects that will serve their community. They will meet, organize, promote and collect donations for a cause of their choosing. We are really looking forward to supporting them in their efforts and fostering them to become life long givers.
How have the needs of Party In-Kindness evolved during the pandemic? Unfortunately, we are unable to have parties due to COVID so it has been a real game changer. However, so many need help more than ever. In 2020, we launched a Give Back Initiative. Our goal was to donate over $10,000 to local charities affected by COVID-19. Our board chose 10 recipients, and we reached out to our amazing donors for help. By year end, we donated over $12,000 to 10 selected charities.
Is there a memorable anecdote that you can share regarding someone who has been impacted by Party In-Kindness? Our Power of Kindness event is always such an impactful night for us. We raise money for Party In-Kindness but also choose a cause and charity to receive half of the funds raised. Each year the recipient takes the stage to speak about the impact the money raised will have on the lives of those the nonprofit recipient touches. To see firsthand the human impact of your donation is a memorable moment. One year we supported Rooms of Hope, who did room makeovers for ill children. That night a young girl with a rare form of cancer was our event speaker. She spoke about losing her leg through her illness and how having a new room helped her through that difficult time. Everyone in the room was moved by her thoughtful and inspiring story.
What are your goals for 2021? Due to COVID, we are still pivoting to the environment in 2021. However, we will continue to help where we can through our contactless donation drives and online fundraisers.
We know that many businesses and people are struggling amidst the pandemic. In 2021, we are launching our Love for Local fundraiser where our goal is to raise $10,000 to distribute to local charities. We look to partner with amazing local businesses that will give discounts to donors who donate $100 or more to our cause to support locally.
How can readers help? Contact us when you have a small gathering or virtual party so that we can attach a meaningful cause that gives back. Readers can also donate to our Love for Local fundraiser in May. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @partyinkindness and Facebook @Party In-Kindness or visit us at www.partyin-kindness.org.