Most 7-year-olds would want presents with toys and other goodies for their birthday. Vivienne Townsend had a different request.
When the La Valle resident and first grade student at St. Peter’s Lutheran School in Reedsburg, celebrated her birthday party in November at Tom Foolery’s Adventure Park in the Wisconsin Dells she requested her friends bring items to donate to Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter instead of birthday presents for herself. The request was put on the invitation, along with a wish list of requested items from the organizations website.
She collected numerous items including 66 rolls of toilet paper, 146 loads of laundry detergent, 68 pairs of socks and 580 disposable plates to give to the homeless shelter. She also collected $620 in cash and $130 in gas cards for donations to the shelter.
Townsend said she wanted to give to the homeless shelter to make a difference in people’s lives who need it the most.
“I do want to make my life better,” Townsend said. “But to make other people’s lives better it just feels good in my heart.”
Townsend even hand wrote every single thank you card to her peers after the party, her mother, Anitra, said. The thank you note included a picture of Vivienne and Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter Executive Director Denise Martalock alongside the items and a list of all the donations to the shelter from the party.
Anitra Townsend said it isn’t the first time her daughter has given back to the community. She took book donations for the La Valle Public Library’s children section after all its books were lost due to the floodwaters in 2018.
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When her 7th birthday was approaching, Townsend and her family thought of other local organizations and charities who also needed help. Vivienne Townsend said she decided on Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter to help women and children in need.
Anitra Townsend said her daughter’s actions to help the community doesn’t surprise her.
“She was born with a heart bigger than her body,” Anitra Townsend said of Vivienne wiping away tears. “She just wants everyone around her to be happy whatever she can do to brighten somebody’s day.”
Vivienne Townsend’s actions had an effect on those around her. She said another friend is requesting donations for their birthday party to give to another organization instead of gifts.
Martalock said the items donated to the shelter will be used for the residents day-to-day living needs, like cooking and cleaning, and care packages.
She was humbled by Vivienne Townsend’s request and was surprised to receive more donated items than she expected. The shelter lost supplies and other items when the basement was damaged from the 2018 flood, she said. The donations from Vivienne Townsend’s birthday party helped restock those much needed items, like laundry soap, hygiene items, dish soap, paper towels and paper plates, she said.
Martalock said the shelter is for homeless women and children and provides them with resources such as housing and job searching to help them get back on their feet. The shelter has four bedrooms and can house up to 16 people, she said.
More information on Safe Harbor Homeless Shelter is on its website www.safeharborreedsburg.org. Martalock said those who want to donate items can call the homeless shelter at 608-768-0040.
Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.