Melonie gives back to 87 foster children
A Christmastime baby who decided to dedicate her birthdays to giving gifts to foster children has collected a record number of presents.
Melonie Dill's third annual Birthday Giveback received more than 230 gifts from 160 donors.
Now 87 foster children will get at least three presents each.
Ms Dill, the vice-president of the Foster Parents' Association, said the gift drive was a great success.
She added: “A lot of the foster kids are with middle to low-income parents who sometimes can't afford to get extra stuff.
“Foster children are just as important as other children, and I felt like if we could bring them a little bit of brightness in what could be a dark time for them then it's worth it.”
Ms Dill, 33, thanked the donors, both private and corporate, including several insurance companies.
She said: “It was great to see the community gather around an event like this.”
The gifts were dropped off at Chopsticks restaurant in Hamilton on Monday evening, where 50 donors were treated to food and music.
Ms Dill, a civil servant from Southampton, said: “A lot of people arranged to drop the gifts off at an earlier or later time, but a lot of people did eat and come and enjoy the atmosphere for a little while.”
She added that she started Birthday Giveback to treat foster children to the luxury of Christmas gift.
She explained: “Throughout the year, we do a lot to help the foster families with things that they need, so when it came to my birthday three years ago I thought ‘you know, we do stuff that they need, but we generally don't do stuff they want'.”
Because her birthday is on December 13 and close to the festive season, Ms Dill thought it was the perfect time to get the children into the holiday spirit.
Ms Dill created a website that allowed donors to choose foster children based on their age and gender.
She added that Chopsticks, Rosa's Cantina, and Argo, a Hamilton insurance and reinsurance firm, created “angel trees” where passers-by chose foster children based on a Christmas angel that represented them.
Ms Dill said: “When I originally started in my first year, it was just friends and family and now it's like people from all over the community are taking part.”
She added that “it's just really nice that it's grown, because it is a good cause.”
Ms Dill said she was pleased that Argo and insurance firm Lancashire Group, who donated almost half of the presents, pitched in to help. A spokeswoman for Argo said: “We try to give back to the community every holiday season, and we are happy to have dedicated our time to the FPA.”
The foster children will get their gifts at a Christmas party in Chopsticks on December 20.
Ms Dill said: “I truly believe it takes a village, and we have an awesome village.”