Photos by Rome City Schools

Birthday celebrations only come around once a year, but they are anticipated every day up until the date, as who wouldn’t be excited about celebrating a day that is special to them? This is what gave Cristin Warden, creator of Brighter Birthdays, the idea to help give back to the children who do not get to celebrate their birthdays as most children do.

Brighter Birthdays is a community service organization that helps children in need celebrate their birthdays through the delivery of bags filled with toys and living essentials. Each bag contains everything one would need to celebrate their birthday, for example, a plate, napkin, hand written card, yoyo, Play-Doh, crayons, candy and other treats.

The initiative started around two years ago in Warden’s basement; “It was around Christmas time when the idea came to me. I was getting all of these emails about families that needed help with Christmas, and I thought… how do these kids who celebrate Christmas this way celebrate their birthdays?”

“We started off partnering with Rome Action Ministries simply providing 250 backpacks to kids that receive food through the county,” explained Warden. “From there, our idea just kept growing. Last year, we donated 1,000 bags, and this year we plan on doing over 2,000.”

Warden and volunteers offer Birthday Bags to every school in the city and county, and are working towards expanding out to Cedartown at the Boys and Girls Club and Summerville.

Brighter Birthdays volunteer, Neema Pandya, enjoys giving back to children who do not get to traditionally celebrate their birthdays. “I only got involved with Cristin and Brighter Birthdays about three weeks ago, but I am so delighted to be helping give back to such amazing children who deserve to have their birthdays celebrated,” said Pandya.

Warden and Brighter Birthdays got involved with Elm Street Elementary when the administration asked the group if they would be willing to provide Birthday Bags for every student in the school.

“We do this with a handful of schools, where we donate bags for every child within the system,” said Warden. “I know that for my kids, birthdays are very important, and they look forward to them all year long. Now, every single child at Elm Street can look forward to something special on their birthday.”

Elm Street Principal, Laura Walley also agrees that everybody loves to celebrate their birthday, and that opportunities like Brighter Birthdays are so important.

“How can you turn down the opportunity to celebrate somebody’s birthday?” said Walley. “At Elm Street, we are featuring birthdays on the morning show, which coincides perfectly with this initiative. On our morning show, we announce the children’s birthdays, along with presenting them with their Birthday Bag. It just makes them feel special, and we love to make our kids feel special because they are special.”

Elm Street 3rd grade student, Dougie White, was so excited to hear about the new shipment of Birthday Bags coming in to Elm Street on Tuesday. “It’s so exciting to know that the whole school gets these birthday bags to celebrate their special day with,” said White.

Mrs. Walley put it best, “We can’t control how our students celebrate away from here, but we can certainly make sure that we recognize and make them feel special here, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without Brighter Birthdays.”

To learn more about Cristin Warden and her team, as well as to donate to the Brighter Birthdays initiative, visit