Five-year-old McKenna Bogdanowicz recently celebrated her birthday at a "Royal Princess" party with her family and friends. And although she received a lot of nice gifts, she won't be keeping them.
Maureen Bogdanowicz said they sent out the invitations for her daughter's birthday party requesting that guests bring an unwrapped toy or other gift to be given for Christmas to a child in foster care. The toys would then be distributed by CASA of Chautauqua County Inc.
It was a big success.
McKenna Bogdanowicz recently donated all of the presents she received for her fifth birthday to CASA of Chautauqua County Inc., to be distributed to area foster children.
''I got a lot of gifts,'' said McKenna. ''They are really nice gifts and I think they will like them.''
McKenna was inspired by her 8-year-old brother's generosity last year, when he donated his gifts to the Salvation Army's Anew Center. McKenna's mother learned about CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) - a program that trains and supports volunteers who provide a voice for abused and neglected children - from a co-worker who serves on its board. She asked McKenna if she would like to share her gifts with area foster children to help others.
Bogdanowicz said McKenna never doubted that she was doing the right thing.
McKenna's mother said that she and her husband are proud of their children for showing concern for others.
"We want them to be able to celebrate, but we also want them to know that there is a bigger picture," Bogdanowicz said.
Kathy Park, CASA of Chautauqua County program director, said the gifts will go to needy children in the community who are being served by the CASA program.
Park said she was encouraged by the excitement that she saw on McKenna's face when she showed her donation. When wrapping up the visit, Park asked McKenna if she was sure she wanted me to take all of the presents, she smiled and said "yes" slipped into a pair of shoes and helped place them the car.
"We've got to recruit and replace retired volunteers on an ongoing basis, not only in our program, but in all not-for-profit human service agencies throughout our community. This is how you do it, by raising the kids' awareness that there is a need out there," Park said.