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On her birthday, teen asks for gifts for abused and neglected children

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Bree Huggins’ 13th birthday party wasn’t like most. There were gifts of nail polish, makeup, jewelry and other goodies a teen would love. But the gifts weren’t for Huggins. Instead, foster children of the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento were the recipients. “These kids do not have someone buying them the things that they want, let alone the things they need like clothes, personal hygiene items and even snack foods,” Huggins wrote in her invitation. “Since I am very fortunate in my life, I want to share my blessings with them and if you wish to buy me a birthday present, I ask that you help me show these kids that someone cares by purchasing items (for foster children)…” The idea to give to others on her birthday came about after the Huggins family adopted a family during the holidays through their church, Bayside in Granite Bay. Huggins said Bayside was her inspiration. “If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” she said. In addition to a candy buffet, a soda bar, tater tots and sliders at Huggins’ birthday party, were tables full of gifts for foster children. More than 400 items were donated including hygiene products, makeup, puzzles, slippers, 13 bags of Flamin Hot Cheetos, homemade fleece blankets and clothes. “These kids were excited to give,” Bree’s mom, Pamela Huggins, said. “It completely exceeded our expectations.” The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento’s mission is to provide emergency shelter for the area’s abused and neglected children. Bree said she wanted to give to children her age and learning about the organization made her reflect on what she had. “It just touched my heart that they don’t have everything that they need,” said Bree, who is a seventh-grader at Spring View Middle School. “I don’t need any more gifts, I have enough.” With approximately 50 party-goers, Bree said she was able to gather more donations than she was expecting — almost four times what Bree was hoping for. Through Girl Scouts and involvement at Bayside Church, Bree said she learned the importance of giving. She works with special needs students and has provided gifts to mothers for Mother’s Day at Serna Village, a help center for homeless people in Sacramento. “I just enjoy it … I have a lot of stuff at my house I don’t need,” she said. “I’ve been happy to give and it just feels good in my heart.”