Many parents stress over the arrival of their child’s birthday — another party to plan, more gifts to purchase. Debbie Zinman and Alison Smith were in the familiar birthday pattern when they were struck with a thought: what if they could make their children excited about giving-back instead of just receiving? Thus was born ECHOage, a charitable service setup to give parents, (or anybody else interested in having portions of their gifts donated to charity), that option.

“ECHOage is a labour of love,” says co-founder Debbie Zinman. “When our children were young, Alison Smith and I looked around at the presents children received at birthday parties and we knew there had to be a better way. Our initial thought was: kids are capable of much more than adults realize.”

With this idea in mind, we decided to build a birthday party platform that would allow children to get the gifts they desired for their birthdays and support a charity they cared for at the same time. We also wanted to make it easier on parents every step of the way.”

With online features that include hosting parents being able track invitations, RSVPs and thank you notes, as well as guests being able to directly contribute online to gifts and charities, Zinman explains that ECHOage truly adds an incredible simplicity. “Mothers tell us all the time: ‘I get so upset when I get an invitation and it’s not an ECHOage party!” says Zinman.

“Parents today are too stretched for time to do things the old fashioned way. They want excellent online solutions to make life easier and give their kids a chance to be involved in a positive way.”

Highlighting Heroes of ECHOage online — the kids who host ECHOage parties — Zinman is eager to ensure that these young people know how important their thoughtfulness and contributions are. “You are never too young to make a difference,” she says. “The ECHOage Heroes prove this and they inspire many other children to follow in their footsteps. Keira and Wiley are two examples of children who made their birthday parties an opportunity to help children at CAF.”

Emphasizing the idea of exposing kids early to the needs of others and their communities, Zinman views ECHOage as a fundamental experience. “When children look outside their own lives and see that there are kids within their own city who need their help, they quickly rise to the occasion and want to find ways to be involved. ECHOage is a tool that children use to put their knowledge of societal issues faced by families into action.”

Interested in hosting an ECHOage party? Click here.

About The Author

The Children's Aid Foundation of Canada funds programs to help Canada's most vulnerable children and youth, those who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and neglect, overcome the obstacles in life that prevent them from reaching their full potential. We are committed to giving ongoing support to those who need it most.

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