Sprinkles, icing, cake mix — the shelves of the Ridgefield food pantry are filled with some unusual treats these days.
That’s because of a recent donation of “Birthday Bags” from Devon Noonan, who collected birthday party-themed items at East Ridge Middle School this spring before she put them into bags, tied them together, and delivered them to Social Services Director Tony Phillips.
“Not everyone has the supplies to celebrate their birthday, and it’s really important for people to have their birthday and have it be something special and memorable,” said Devon, who graduated from East Ridge last week and starts at Ridgefield High School in the fall.
The first collection resulted in almost 10 donated Birthday Bags. Devon has her sights set on creating more once she gets to the high school.
“I really loved the experience and knowing that it will help people create something special makes it even more rewarding,” she said. “... I hope Birthday Bags turns into a regular thing and we can help even more people.”
The first bags were filled with plates, balloons, cake mix, frosting packets, a card, decorative gift bag and many other items anyone would want to hold a birthday party.
For her next collection, Devon wants to order bigger bags that could store more items and perhaps a gift for the person who’s celebrating their birthday.
“Thank you Devon for thinking of us and sharing your time and efforts,” Phillips wrote in a Facebook post after receiving the donations. “No doubt your efforts will help make some people feel very special on their big day.”
Devon said her passion towards community service was sparked when she visited her mom’s elementary school class in Norwalk.
“I like to go there and help kids in her classroom when we’re out of school,” she said.
The Birthday Bags idea stemmed from an assignment at East Ridge but also working with the Torch Club at the Boys and Girls Club.
This summer, Devon is serving in the club’s Leader in Training program in hopes of working there one day.
Earlier in the year, she was awarded the Torch Club’s Member of the Year and also won the Western Connecticut Association Superintendent (WCSA) award — one of two students to win from East Ridge.
“It was so exciting getting that award from the Torch Club,” she said. “I feel like there’s an opportunity to do even more than I have done but that this was a big step in the right direction. I want to give more back to this community and plan to in high school.”