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Airport graduate is making a difference for shelter children in the community

West Columbia, SC (Angelica Iglesias) – On a birthday, most people are surrounded by their loved ones and given gifts to show how the people around them love and appreciate them. However for some kids, a single gift isn’t even an option, but a recent Airport High School graduate is changing all of that in the Midlands.

Madison Dinkins, 18, started a non-profit charity called the Birthday Box. They provide birthday gifts for children in shelters under the age of 18. She currently has six different boxes in six different shelters around the Midlands. The boxes are filled with gifts wrapped and labeled for either a boy or a girl and an age range. For example, a Nerf football would be labeled “Boys aged 7-18.” On a child’s birthday, they are given the opportunity to pick out one of the gifts in the box.

Madison was inspired by McKinsey Cook, her small group youth leader who worked with children in street shelters in Uganda. Cook found her passion working with the children and building them a shelter there. However before she could return to help finish the shelter, she passed away in a car accident early 2015 at the age of 20. Once the shelter was completed, it was named the McKinsey House after the love and passion she shared for the children there. Madison wanted to continue this legacy. She originally tried to send supplies to Uganda but the long-distance shipping became a problem, so she thought serving her local community and children would be a bit simpler. That’s when she came up with the Birthday Box.

“You just don’t really think about how these kids might not get a gift, and the people who work in the shelters can’t always remember a gift or can’t afford to buy one for every child who has a birthday,” said Madison. She started off just buying the gifts herself with some help from her family and friends. At first, she had some trouble keeping the boxes filled, but she started doing gift drives and getting some attention. Now, she has won over $3,000 in monetary awards and grants, including the Mungo Homes Community Builders Award. There is now a stock of gifts for when a Birthday Box starts running low.

Madison’s love for the West Columbia community comes from her mother Rhonda who owns Tylar Rose, a local formal wear store in the city. Madison just graduated from Airport High School in early June and is planning to attend the College of Charleston in August. She wants to spread the Birthday Box across the state and maybe one day the country.

You can learn more about the Birthday Box or donate on their website at www.thebirthdaybox.rocks.

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