NEVAEHA SMOLEN

Nevaeha Smolen, who will soon turn 10, is having a birthday party requesting no gifts for herself, but collecting donations for U.S. troops serving abroad. She is shown with the flag presented to the family upon the death of her grandfather, one of many family members who have served in the military.

When Nevaeha Smolen celebrates her birthday, there will be treats and balloons, but no gifts.

At least not for her.

The soon-to-be 10-year-old is asking all who attend, including members of the public, to bring items and cash to help troops serving abroad through Blue Star Mothers of America. That group ships items to troops serving abroad and other veterans.

Nevaeha’s event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Fox Lake American Legion, 210 W. State St. Though her actual birthday is Oct. 29, the timing is better for the event Oct. 21.

Nevaeha is a fourth-grader at Wilson Elementary School in Beaver Dam. Family members said she always has been concerned about others.

“She has always been a ‘sharing is caring’ little girl,” said her mom, Wendy. “This past May she went to Children’s Hospital in Madison and donated her own birthday and Christmas money, along with proceeds from a friend’s Scentsy party that was hosted in Nevaeha’s name.”

Nevaeha likes to share, and is proud to be a good sister.

“My brother likes to draw and stuff, so I give him my papers,” she said. “Everyone around me likes to share. Sharing makes people happy, and it makes me happy too.”

Asked where she gets her fundraising ideas from, she answered quietly, “I don’t know. They just pop into my head.”

Wendy’s family is closely associated with the Fox Lake Legion and generations of family members have served in the military.

“There are a lot of them,” Nevaeha said. “My grandparents, my cousins… there’s my brother (Nick Mathers) too. I’ve seen how they’re proud to serve and I want to help them.”

She also knows and appreciates the fact that having fewer things makes cleaning her room easier.

“Not that long ago I got rid of two trash bags and two baskets full and my room is still a mess,” Nevaeha said.

Her favorite toys are “horses and stuffed animals.”

“They sure can pile up,” Wendy said.

The items she hopes to gather instead of toys must be individually wrapped or pocket/travel sized. Donors may purchase boxes of things if they are individually wrapped and may be separated. All food items must have an expiration date no earlier than March 2018.

Cash donations will help transport the donations to soldiers, or will buy supplies to add to of whatever people bring. Letters also will be written to soldiers, to be delivered with the items.

A silent auction will be held with items from businesses and individuals.

“We’ve had a lot of donations so far, and they’re still coming in,” Wendy said. “Several businesses have been more than willing to help. It has been amazing.”

“My Grandma’s making a quilt,” said Nevaeha.

Guests are invited to socialize, enjoy a cake and cupcakes and wish the birthday girl well.

“I invite everyone to come help us get donations to help the troops,” Nevaeha said.