Mitzvot from the Heart: Abby Wallach

For her mitzvah project, Abby Wallach supported the Birthday Joy Foundation, an organization her mother, Cindy Lander Wallach, started. The group provides presents to children in need on their birthdays.

Abby Wallach, Central Reform Congregation

Several years ago Abby’s mother, Cindy Lander Wallach of Clayton, started Birthday Joy Foundation, which provides presents to children in need on their birthdays. After attending birthday parties with her children, Wallach started thinking about children who were not able to do something out of the ordinary to celebrate their own birthdays.

She met with representatives from homeless shelters and children’s agencies in the area and quickly realized that there was an opportunity to help children feel special on their birthday. She and her husband John discussed this with Abby and her brother Dylan. Soon after, Birthday Joy Foundation was founded. Its mission is simple: every child deserves to celebrate the day he or she was born.

Abby supported Birthday Joy as her mitzvah project. In doing so, she requested guests donate new toys or make a donation so toys could be purchased for the children. She received close to $1,000 and collected 170 toys. 

Abby also held a fundraiser with Five Below, a discount chain that sells products that cost $5. Ten percent of all purchases were donated to Birthday Joy. 

A student at Wydown Middle School, Abby worked as a volunteer shopper for Birthday Joy and helped assemble birthday gift bags that were delivered to the 15 different agencies the organization works with. They include Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Our Little Haven and Gateway 180.   

Recently, Birthday Joy Foundation created a Birthday Joy store in one of the area homeless shelters where parents can select birthday presents for their children at no cost.

Abby said she knew that some children in our community didn’t receive presents on their birthdays, and she wanted to help make them feel special. 

“Birthday Joy Foundation provides children with presents who might not be able to get gifts,” she said. “It makes me feel good to know that I am making a difference in so many children’s lives.”