Tulsa girl asks for charitable donations to local nonprofits rather than gifts on her birthdays

TULSA -- Gifts are usually showered upon young children at their birthday parties, but one little girl has never asked for any presents on her big day.

Olivia Ellsworth turned six earlier this month. At the party, people brought donations to a local nonprofit rather than gifts, just as they've done on each of her previous birthdays.

Whitney Ellsworth, Olivia's mother, and her husband had an idea when she was born. Starting on Olivia's first birthday, they decided to ask people to bring donations instead of gifts. As Olivia has gotten older, the tradition held, much to her parents' surprise.

"We started it when she was one," Whitney said. "She didn't really have much input then, but, as she gets older, she can provide input on who she gets to donate to and what they should bring."

For this birthday, the Ellsworths picked the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless to donate all kinds of supplies. Olivia said she gave the nonprofit "snacks and socks and underwear and toothbrushes and toothpaste."

Olivia visited the Day Center after her party and learned more about the operations. She dropped off the donations that her friends brought to her party and helped place in the supply area.

"We always go to the facility and drop the gifts off," Whitney said, "so that she can have a part of seeing what the donations are going to go to and how they'll be used."

In the past, Olivia has given to several nonprofits, including the Tulsa SPCA, Emergency Infant Services, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and a horse-riding therapy center.

Whitney said her daughter picked the Day Center this year after a program she participated in this summer held an ice cream sale to benefit the agency.

"People that have come to the parties really like the idea and have adapted that as part of their parties," Whitney said, "and it's kind of spread."

Olivia and her parents will soon talk about which group she'd like to donate to next year, and they hope this special custom sticks every time she blows out her candles.

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