A six-year-old Texas girl turned her own heartache into a very special Christmas for the less fortunate by donating her birthday presents to homeless and foster children. On the surface, this seems a noble deed, but is actually a Capraesque tale of heartbreak and disappointment transformed by a community’s random act of kindness.
Two weeks ago, Alexis Barnes celebrated her sixth birthday at a Houston area roller rink and not one of her 17 classmates invited came. According to KHOU, her dismayed mother, Jessica, posted a photo of her daughter in a pink dress sitting alone at the birthday party. On Facebook, she vented: “Kinda sad for Alexis today.”
Alexis suffers with the autoimmune disorder alopecia, which causes hair loss and can result in permanent baldness. Her heavy-hearted mother posted: “We skated with her and did cake and stuff with family. She kept telling me she was ‘worried about her friends’ looking around seeing all the other kids with their friends celebrating their birthdays up there and I didn’t really know what to tell her other than sometimes moms and dads get busy…”
Reportedly, the post went viral getting 1,000 likes and almost 700 shares. People flooded the family with outpourings of cyber-support and birthday wishes. One woman even shared the painful memory of when her daughter got stood up on her seventh birthday.
Days later, one of the no-show classmates created an apology card for Alexis. It read: “Sorry we missed your party. We had a Christmas party to go to.”
By then, Charlie Diggs, a single father who lives in the area, saw Jessica’s heart wrenching post. He did not know the Barnes family but felt compelled to do something and championed a surprise party for Alexis. “We as a community are throwing her the biggest bash she will never forget,” the online invitation read.
“As a parent, to know what her parents were feeling, you can’t replace your child’s smile because nobody showed up, and she’s just sitting there looking around the whole time,” Diggs told KHOU. “I mean they were sitting there for hours. As a parent, that’s hard and I wanted to do anything I can to help put a smile on the girl’s face. I would hope that her mom and her are just in awe at the whole deal and realize the community does care. She does have friends no matter her immune disorder. We all love her. And I hope parents realize a kid’s birthday is special. I just want it to be the best day of her life that she’ll never forget.”
Jessica kept the party a secret from Alexis, although she said she shared many of the online well wishes with her daughter. The night before the party, this mom posted her overwhelming gratitude:
How incredible it is that one little girl can have such a ripple effect on not just the community, but the world. The private messages and letters in the mail we have gotten from people all over are just amazing. The stories. The faces. I am in such awe of it all.
You try to teach your children to be kind to the world in the hopes that the world will be kind to them. And this week, tomorrow, will stay with this little girl for the rest of her life as she goes out and does good for other people always knowing that there are people out there who care.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the December 18 bash, one week after the roller rink catastrophe. Bareback Bar & Icehouse in Spring donated a 10 acre field for the party, according to the invitation. Diggs never expected the party to become so huge. Even Miss Texas showed up. Diggs posted on Thursday that a woman with alopecia drove in from San Antonio to show support.
The six-year-old certainly was surprised. She received hundreds of birthday presents on top of items people sent from across the nation. She and her family decided, though, to donate over 400 of these gifts to needy children for Christmas. Wednesday, Alexis delivered a truck full of toys to youngsters at the Children’s Center of Galveston, a non-profit which currently serves more than 100 homeless and foster children, KHOU reported.
Alexis stayed and played with the children and their new toys. Several said they related to feeling different or left out by classmates. Center spokeswoman Clemmie White told the Houston TV news outlet about these kids: “They’re overjoyed people are still thinking about them when they’re at their lowest.”
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.