Guests in the Kokomo Rescue Mission’s dining room were in for a treat on June 26 when they were surprised with a birthday party.
The dining room was transformed for the annual event with party favors, decorative pinwheels, gift bags, a clown, volunteers serving cake and ice cream, and Kokomo Rescue Mission staff singing “Happy Birthday."
“This is awesome. To me, it lets the people that don’t have much feel like they’re wanted, needed, and included,” said guest Tammy Huntsman who was there for lunch with her adult daughter, Jessica Rogers.
While eating lunch, Rogers was entertained by Nurse Humdinger the clown, played by Pat Mills. Mills left Rogers’ mouth agape after a magic trick appeared to make short pieces of yarn reconnect.
“That was really cool,” Rogers said after the trick.
In addition to the entertainment, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church provided gift bags for the guests, which consisted of items such as socks, towels, washcloths, and personal care items. Kids' bags included fun items, such as games and toys.
Guest Patricia Brown was especially thankful for a large bottle of two-in-one shampoo and conditioner that came in her gift bag.
“I definitely needed this. It’s very thoughtful they did think,” Brown said. “It make you feel good, makes you feel special.”
St. Luke's UMC provides the gifts every other year, with First Church of Our Redeemer providing them on the other years.
Alice Richey, a member of St. Luke's UMC, said she and her congregation enjoy putting the bags together for the surprise birthday parties.
“I hope it’s a blessing to them, and it’s a blessing to us definitely. It’s a good outreach for St. Luke’s,” she said.
While passing out the gifts, Richey also asked guests for their birth date and wrote it on a calendar. The church will pray for them for the next two years, she said.
For Arianne Durbin, who was in attendance with other women and children who stay at Open Arms, the event served as a way for all of them to celebrate their birthdays, as they don’t usually get the opportunity to in such a way.
“Some of us don’t get to celebrate our birthdays outside, so we can celebrate it here. It’s awesome, and there’s a lot of people here,” she said.
This year marked the 13th year for the event that was started as a way to do just what Durbin said — give people a chance to celebrate their birthdays.
Van Taylor, executive director of Kokomo Rescue Mission, said the surprise birthday party achieved its goal.
“We just want to make them feel valued and supported at different events in their life,” Taylor said. “It’s affirming them as valued and appreciated.”
Create-a-Cake and Meijer donated the cake, while Scoops donated the ice cream.