FLORENCE, Ala. — Making birthdays special for 190 Florence kindergarteners? It's what this month's Neighborhood Hero does.
It's also how Holley Hamm got the nickname "Birthday Fairy".
"You know kindergartens that first year in a big school and they get really excited." Alyssa Carbine is a kindergarten teacher at Harlan Elementary. She says that when the Birthday Fairy comes, "They get, like, a new backpack and some reading books so it also ties in learning with their special day."
And there's another birthday surprise added to the mix... all items personalized for each child. Hamm says, "Their names are on everything, like their names are on their chair covers, their names are on their bags because we want them to know that this was made especially for them."
Miss Savannah Morgan, kindergarten teacher at Threadgill Primary, adds, "It's wonderful that not only they get something to use at school and to read but they also get stuff to take home and celebrate with their families. This is something they will definitely remember. They couldn't believe that there was a Birthday Fairy and now that they get to experience the Birthday Fairy that just makes their whole week truly."
The Birthday Fairy, Holley Hamm, hopes that what the students learn from this will last beyond a single day. "We feel that yeah, celebrating birthdays are fun but we feel that there's a bigger aspect in there. That it's creating confidence, it's increasing their self esteem, it's teaching them to celebrate others. So, it's something that can carry on you know, can carry on the rest of their life, you know, just building on all that."
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The mission of the Birthday Fairy was placed on Hamm's heart last year. Ms. Carbine allowed Hamm to pilot the birthday surprises in her kindergarten class room, not knowing that that first birthday surprise would ignite a spark in the community of Florence.
"She [Ms. Carbine] asked me if I would do the whole kindergarten because all the other kids wanted to know why the birthday fairy did not come to their classes. So when she put that on my heart, I was just thinking, I don't know how I'm going to do the whole kindergarten, and then I told my friends about it. My friends got behind me and we formed a board and we got a 501-c-3 approved and we have now got over 190 students that the birthday fairy will celebrate this year."
Holley Hamm may be going out of her way to make the birthday's of over 190 students special, but those same students have gifted something to Hamm in return - the name that started it all... The Birthday Fairy.
"Actually the kids came up with it. They, yeah, they came... they said, 'oh like who, who's doing this?' And I was like, 'It's just a special friend.' They said, 'It's like a fairy' and then it kind of stuck. So it's kind of been about the kids," said Ms. Carbine.