A birthday to benefit others

Instead of birthday presents, Amelia Whiting (age 9) asks her friends to donate gifts or non-perishable food to people in need.

Amelia Whiting celebrates her ninth birthday on Saturday at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Amelia Whiting celebrates her ninth birthday on Saturday at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Soon to be nine year-old Amelia Whiting celebrates her birthday on Saturday.

She’s having a movie party at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas, renting out a theatre for a matinee showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

She’ll have a gift table set up as her and 32 of her friends enjoy pizza, popcorn and lightsaber action, but she’s not collecting gifts for herself.

Amelia has decided to donate all gifts to Chilliwack Community Services’ Christmas Sharing Program. She’ll also be collecting non-perishable food for the Salvation Army food bank.

She had a similar movie party back in 2014. “And I got way too many gifts,” Amelia said. Two car-loads, in fact.

This year, she wants to spread the joy. Every gift will go toward a child who will really appreciate it. They’ll go to kids who otherwise may not have any gifts to open on Christmas morning.

“Amelia has everything,” her mom Julia Robertson said. “There are a lot of families out there that don’t.

“For my daughter to understand that – that’s a big deal.”

Not long ago, Julia herself was a single mother of three, struggling to afford food or gifts for her own family. They would visit the Langley food bank together, and were fortunate to be sponsored by the Christmas Bureau.

Now that they are able pass on that generosity to others in need, they do so as often as they can.

Amelia hopes that other kids and families are inspired to pay it forward by donating gifts and food when they’re able to.

Amelia’s party runs at Cottonwood 4 Cinemas on Saturday, March 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

If anyone would like to donate new, unwrapped gifts for the Christmas Sharing Program, or non-perishable food items for the food bank, they are welcome to drop-off the items in the decorated boxes at the theatre.