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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
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Orphans, foster kids have a ball at birthday bash

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TAMPA -

Bethany, an 11-year-old cherub who lives at The Children’s Home, sipped a Capri Sun from a tiny straw at a picnic table as a DJ spun tunes in the warm sunshine Sunday afternoon.

It was a welcome respite for the child who is in foster care and who has lived with other foster kids at the home for about a year.

She and 34 other foster children spent the day doing fun things, enjoying pizza and cake, dancing, playing sports and flopping around in the huge bounce house trucked in for the occasion.

It was the first birthday party at The Children’s Home for all of the foster children and orphans who live there.

Bethany was having a ball on Sunday. She got her face painted, too, even though it wasn’t her birthday.

“September,” she said, shyly, when asked when she will be 12.

The birthday bash was organized by Blue Skies Meetings and Events.

“We’ve had monthly parties to celebrate birthdays of the kids in that month, but this is a first,” said Heather Tyler, who organized the event.

Everything there, the food, party equipment, inflatable houses and photo booths, was donated by local businesses and cost nothing for the children who ranged from 6 to 17.

There were manicures and pedicures. Princess and superhero characters strolled around the grounds, too.

For some, it was the first official birthday party they’ve ever had, she said.

The Children's Home houses up to 50 children at its center on Memorial Highway, west of Sheldon Road. It is a nationally recognized and accredited residential treatment home for foster children and orphans and it specializes in caring for children who have been victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

Directly and indirectly, the home is part of the lives of more than 15,000 children a year.

Dalton, 13, is a resident of the home. He said he loves playing football.

“Defensive line and offensive line,” he said. He threw the ball around during the party, but opted not to cut a rug to the DJ tunes, though he admitted he liked the music.

“I don’t dance,” he said.

Kelly Glide, the residential operations coordinator, gets to know each and every child who lives there.

“Some are here for month or a year, sometimes longer,” she said. “It depends on the situation.”

She has worked at The Children’s Home for two years and said the birthday party may be expanded to include foster children and orphans in other programs next year.

“I love it here,” she said. “I try to be a friend; to be somebody in their life.”

kmorelli@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7760

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