Growing up in foster care comes with a slew of challenges for the child, and Bourne native Mary Nogueras aims to bring a smile to the faces of foster children at least once a year.

Through her nonprofit organization, The Gifted Crate, Nogueras ensures that foster parents are able to provide their foster children with a special and meaningful birthday with surprise-filled customized crates.

The Start of The Gifted Crate

Nogueras has two children of her own, has adopted two sons, and is fostering another boy. She said she recognized a pattern from her adopted and fostered children that birthdays were not always special for them.

“I noticed that birthdays were always kind of bittersweet for Julien,” she said of her foster child. “Julien talked about how birthdays were just another day in the group home, and when I spoke with other teens in foster care, there were some foster parents that wouldn’t celebrate the birthdays, or didn’t have the means to.”

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Nogueras has always made a point to celebrate birthdays.

“I use them to celebrate milestones, so they’ve always been huge for me,” she said.

So, she came up with a plan to make birthdays a little more meaningful for foster kids.

How It Works

According to Nogueras, foster parents receive a birthday stipend of $50, but it’s not enough. The Gifted Crate helps ease the burden and encourages the foster parent to claim the box as their own gift.

“We don’t’ want it to feel like charity for them,” said Nogueras.

The Gifted Crate currently takes requests for Massachusetts and hopes to expand to Rhode Island, to give even more kids these fun and thoughtful surprises.

“We give kids and teens in foster care birthday boxes, filled with stuff like cake mix, party decorations and a few things from their wish list,” Nogueras said. “Foster parents or social workers send in a request for a crate, and we really customize it to each person.”

Courtesy of Mary Nogueras
Courtesy of Mary Nogueras

When you live in a group home or you are a child in foster care, there are a lot of unknowns, like, “Will I be in this group home next year?” or “This isn’t my family, do they care it’s my birthday?”

Through The Gifted Crate, Nogueras provides a special moment for the child and reminds them that they are loved and worthy of a special day.

“If we can create a little moment to celebrate these kids, that’s everything to me,” she said.

How to Help

May is Foster Care Awareness Month. For anyone interested in supporting, The Gifted Crate accepts donations for anyone who is looking to help their cause.

“People ask all the time how to help, and we understand that not everyone can foster a child. This is a perfect way to help,” said Nogueras.

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