SIMPSONVILLE—For two Upstate children, the best birthday gift was the chance to help someone else.
On Feb. 8, six-year-old Vincent Ovsak and his sister Angela Ovsak, 5, made a big donation to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at their parish, St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville. Vincent brought warm kids’ clothes and Angela provided baby supplies.
They collected the items at their recent birthday parties because they asked for donations for the needy instead of presents.
Their mother Valerie Ovsak said the idea came from routine family discussions she and her husband Stephen have about daily blessings, including a warm home, food to eat, good schools, and the love of family and friends.
“With their birthdays right around the corner after the holidays, we started talking about all the gifts they had recently received, and how these are just things that will come and go,” she said. “We brainstormed ideas of how to help others instead of receiving more things.”
The Ovsak children had recently attended a party where a child requested donations for the local Humane Society instead of gifts. After getting into the car on a particularly cold morning, Vincent told his mom he wanted his friends to bring winter clothes for needy kids to his Jan. 16 birthday party instead of presents.
He ended up collecting 31 hats, 37 pairs of gloves and 27 pairs of socks along with sweatshirts, scarves and coats.
When his sister saw how much he was able to collect, she decided to join the effort and told her parents she wanted to collect items for babies because, in her words, “Babies are just so cute!” Her party on Feb. 6 brought in a big pile of diapers, baby wipes, baby food and blankets.
Mrs. Ovsak is thrilled that her kids have learned about generosity and encourages other parents to teach that lesson as early as possible.
“Children are so impressionable, and we as parents set the tone for how they treat others,” Mrs. Ovsak said. “I think it’s important to teach them that it’s easier than you think to help other people and be kind. A smile, holding a door open, letting someone go in front of the line at the store — all of those can be teachable moments for kids even during the hustle and bustle of daily life.”
Vincent and Angela, meanwhile, are already planning on who they want to help when their birthdays roll around next year.