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Sonika Menon, Rinna Talwar, Rohin Menon & Anya Talwar

The Birthday Giving Program

Illinois

The Birthday Giving Program was recognized as one of CNN’s Young Wonders in 2018. They are a teen-founded 501(c)(3) that provides birthday bags and celebrations to children, adults, senior citizens, and veterans affected by poverty, addiction, abuse, homelessness, violence, physical/mental challenges, old age, and loneliness. They collaborate with 25 organizations in Illinois and have 4 chapters in California, Tennessee, Florida, and Idaho. Sonika and Rinna will use the funds to expand the mission of the program to create chapters in three new states, with the goal of expansion to 10 states in the next 3 years.

Updates from Sonika and Rinna


July, 2019
Hello Riley’s Way Community! My name is Sonika Menon and I am the founder of The Birthday Giving Program, a 501c3 non profit organization that provides birthday bags and celebrations to children, adults, senior citizens, and veterans affected by poverty, addiction, abuse, homelessness, violence, physical/mental challenges, old age, and loneliness. Our birthday bags include toys, books, snacks, clothing items, and other gift items customized to fit the needs of the recipient. We also provide home made cakes for everyone at the organization to share. Since the program started in April of 2017, we have reached a huge milestone: distributing over 1,000 birthday bags! We are partnered with over 20 organizations in Illinois and have opened four nationwide chapters in Tennessee, California, Florida, and Idaho.

I applied for the Call for Kindness after Ms. Kikuchi emailed me and suggested that I apply. After learning more about the Riley’s Way Foundation, I realized that their values of kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection making were exactly what we are striving to achieve through The Birthday Giving Program! Through our organization and mission, we hope to spread the word about the importance of celebrating those in need. Birthdays aren’t just a one time thing; memories from one birthday celebration can last forever!

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Hi everyone! My name is Rinna Talwar and I am the Founder of the Senior Citizen Division of The Birthday Giving Program. I started working alongside Sonika in July of 2017 and was so impressed by her idea that I wanted to help as well. I began the Senior Citizen Division of The Birthday Giving Program in October of 2017. We are currently partnered with two nursing homes - a rehabilitation center as well as a center for those suffering with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. I also began working with veterans in October of 2018 and now support two organizations - VA Hines Hospital and MSHV (Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans). While the overall mission is to celebrate everyone’s birthday, I have incorporated music therapy (playing piano and singing) into the senior’s celebrations.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit Mount Olive Basic School in St. James, Jamaica. I am also working with Royal Caribbean Cruiseline to help in delivering the birthday bags to these children.

To echo Sonika’s comments, the mission of Riley’s Way fits perfectly with our mission: to spread joy and happiness to those around us.

Using the $3,000 from this contest, we are looking to continue opening chapters in other states around the country and frequently deliver to Mount Olive Basic School. Our goal is to expand to 10 states in the next 3 years and we are planning to use the $3,000 to achieve this by spreading the word about our organization (through Facebook ads and other social media advertising). We are so honored to be a part of the Riley’s Way Family and look forward to providing even more smiles and birthdays to those in need.