What began as an act of charitable giving for one young man's bar mitzvah has turned into his mission.

Drake Tarlow, 13, an eighth-grader at The Pike School, has put together more than 122 birthday boxes and raised about $1,000 for the nonprofit group Birthday Wishes. The organization, which operates out of Natick, provides birthday parties to children in homeless shelters and transitional living facilities.

"At first it was a bar mitzvah project that I had to do. But when I realized the impact it was making and how much I was doing for the community it became more than just a bar mitzvah project: It became something I am really passionate about," said Drake, whose own bar mitzvah was postponed until next April because of the coronavirus.

As part of the nonprofit's Birthday-in-a-Box program, Drake packages party supplies and wrapped gifts into ornate containers to be delivered with everything necessary for a birthday party.

"What's in the birthday box are plates, napkins, every single item you can to have a birthday — cake, candles, streamers, tablecloth," said Dana Tarlow, Drake's mother.

And now with all the unexpected downtime arising from the pandemic, Drake hopes that other young people like himself can chip in for a cause they care about.

"Now that everybody is either online or half-online, everyone has a lot of free time on their hands and it would be really cool if everybody — it doesn't have to be Birthday Wishes — if they could find a charity that they were really passionate about and they could do a little work for it," said Drake. "It would make a huge difference in the community."

To learn more about Birthday Wishes visit https://birthdaywishes.org/.















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