My introduction to paying it forward on my birthday was in 2006. I hosted my birthday at the local homeless shelter. Friends and family were invited to bring food to share so we could server dinner to the families staying there. We ended up serving dinner to 200 people that evening. It was touching and heartfelt and it was the best birthday ever! That's when I decided to make this a yearly habit.

The next year, 2007, we had just moved to a new state so I challenged my friends to give to others instead of sending something to me. The coolest donations happened!!! Friends donated to their local associations for charities that touched their lives, from arthritis and cancer to breast cancer and women's shelters.

In 2008, I conducted a diaper and baby items collection and delivered them to a local battered women shelter that was in desperate need of items for the women staying there. Everyone came through plenty of items! I loved delivering the items and seeing how happy everyone was. I also collected donations for a local church.

In 2009, I went with friends to one of the local Ronald McDonald Houses and again served dinner. This was actually organized by someone else but happened around my birthday and I decided to help.

In 2010, I worked at helping friends in need. I organized meal deliveries for a friend in need. I also collected donations for local charities.

2011-2014, we collected donations for a local homeless shelter.

I wanted 2015 to be unique. I searched for the right opportunity and that's when I learned about the Fisher House. Fisher House is similar to a Ronald McDonald House but it's located next to VA Hospitals throughout the country. The house is there to help families of soldiers who are hospitalized at the VA. They are a sort of "forgotten" charity. So I rounded up my friends and family and we were able to donate meals and hygiene kits which they use in their "welcome bags". My generous friends also donated money and gift cards. It was a wonderful event!

I would love to hear of your experiences!

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