Eighth grader Riley Harris is holding a masquerade ball for her 13th birthday party. But she doesn’t want gifts. Riley wants cash donations for the youth literacy and leadership programs at Bethlehem Community Center in Alton Park.
Riley was eight years old when she first decided to substitute birthday gifts for donations to local charities. Laura Harris, Riley’s mother, said, “She was eight, so we thought the real test would be when she got home and didn’t have anything.” Most everyone put the donations in cards. “She spent I don’t know how much time reading every card, and she was excited about it, and felt good about it.”
Riley loves the Beth youth literacy program, saying, “Literacy is a good, important thing that sticks with you for a while, and education is good because it leads to success.” Riley is vice president of the Loftis Middle School Beta club and president of the student council.
“It is so great to see our young people care about others so much instead of thinking about themselves,” said Ted Bullock, executive director of the Bethlehem Community Center.
Riley’s birthday party will be at the Chester Frost Pavilion from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Bethlehem Center is a 93-year-old nonprofit organization that contributes to the community in a holistic way by offering literacy, character development, arts education, leadership training, economic empowerment and gang prevention programs to students in first grade through eighth grade in the Chattanooga area.
For more information about the Bethlehem Center, Riley Harris’ birthday, or how you can help, visit www.thebeth.org or call 423 760-0473.