ESL Jefferson Award Winner: Carrie Green

May 07, 2019 05:57 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is recognizing those in our community who are going above and beyond to give back by volunteering. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things -- that is the essence of the Jefferson Awards.

News10NBC's Jennifer Mobilia introduces you to a local mom who is on a mission to make every child feel special on their birthday.  

Carrie Green was shopping the after-Christmas sales two years ago, stocking up on toys to donate the following year to children in need. But then she realized these toys would sit in her basement for a year.  

"I thought, does anybody do birthdays? Nobody does birthdays that I knew of and I thought somebody should do birthdays," Green said. "And the next thought was, I'm somebody, I can do birthdays."

And that's how Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha began.

"I set up a Facebook page one night and donations just started coming in, people started sending me stuff," she said. 

Green contacted the Rochester City School District and adopted kindergarten, 1st- and 2nd-grade classrooms where 90% of the children are considered in need and qualify for free lunches. 

"As I started this, what I found out, which just broke my heart, is so many of these kids don't even know their birthday because it's not celebrated the way my birthday was celebrated as a kid or my kids," Green said. "They don't even know the day."

Green wanted to make sure each child in the classroom felt noticed, celebrated and cared about on their special day.  

"What was very important to me is they get their wants and needs because we know they're in need, but to a child, it's all about the toys," she said.

Green makes sure each child gets two wrapped toys and a Cha Cha Cha bag of goodies including birthday cake Oreos, a book, socks, underwear, a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, cereal, mac n' cheese, fruit cups, applesauce, and Spaghettio's.

That's a value of close to $50 ... all through donations.

In 2017, Green and Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha celebrated the birthdays of 129 children. This year, they're on track to celebrate 725 birthdays -- birthdays that might not have been celebrated otherwise.  

"One said it made me feel so alive ripping the paper," Green said. "I mean that just broke my heart. And another went on, 'thank you for spending money on me and I'm glad you were born because without you we wouldn't get presents.'"

Green has four children of her own and works a full-time job. She says the joy Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha brings to these children is what keeps her going.   

"I'm not changing the world, I know that, but I'm maybe just bringing them a little joy on their birthday," Green said.

Click here to learn more about Happy Birthday Cha Cha Cha.


Jennifer Mobilia

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