End of the school year, nonprofit advocacy and #WeAreYoungHeroes

Hi everybody! I know my Mom has been doing a lot of the writing on the site these days. But I thought I would put up a few things real quick.

One is that I am now finished with the 7th grade at Gauger-Cobbs. I am very happy to be starting summer break!

Another thing is that we have had some really cool things happening. Like the Caravel Cares Club packed 100 bags on their last day of school as part of being a 3B Ripple Student Chapter which is really awesome. They were able to give the bags to a church who was able to use them. I’m really glad to know they plan on continuing to be an active chapter with our 3B Ripples program.

Me, my mom and Representative Longhurst

Last week I attended Nonprofit Advocacy Day at Legislative Hall with my Mom. Governor Carney talked for a little bit and then my friend Senator Bryan Townsend and also Representative Valerie Longhurst. Both of them said very nice things about me and 3B, but more importantly they talked about how important nonprofits are to the State of Delaware. Nonprofits are at the heart of many important social issues and can help to be the bridge the state needs to make sure people get the right services to help them. I thought that was good to hear and I am glad I was able to go. Especially since Senator Townsend then ended up scheduling a time for us to play minigolf, which we did over the weekend. I want a rematch, haha. No, it was a good game, VERY HOT THOUGH, and Senator Townsend won. But like he says, we had fun and we’re both winners!

So I am thankful to the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement for setting up the advocacy day and thankful to my Mom for letting me go even though it was on a school day. I think I learned a lot and I think it was a good experience.

So then on Saturday my Mom and my Gram went with be to Girard College in Philadelphia for the National Liberty Museum’s Young Hero Outreach Program Celebration. I was the keynote speaker for the event which was really cool, I liked being able to talk to everyone. But I also think it was great to meet all the kids who participated in the young heroes training program. They worked very hard on their projects and I got to see all the research they did and hear from them on their ideas.

 

Elbert-Palmer Elementary School created a Homeless Bill of Rights and that is a concept I think is very much needed and very important. I am very proud of them! My project and my story is in the young hero training curriculum. So the kids all learned about what I am doing. When they saw me at their event they seemed really happy which made me feel good. A lot of them wanted to take selfies with me and I have to admit that was kind of cool! I’m really grateful to the National Liberty Museum for staying in touch with me and for including me in this event. I had a great time!

We’re planning for the 4th Annual 3B Summer Celebration. I hope all of you reading this will be able to join us for our event. It is always a lot of fun and this year will be awesome!

Mom’s going to add in information about sponsorship to the end of this post. If you or your company wants to help sponsor the event I really hope  you’ll think about it.

Thank you!

There are three levels of sponsorship available, they each some with their own perks. You can download our sponsorship form here, please email christy@braesbrownbags.org if you have any questions! Sponsorship packets are DUE BY AUGUST 4, 2017! 

DOWNLOAD – 3B Brae Sponsorship-2017 Summer Celebration [pdf]

Giving Day in Delaware #DoMore24DE

Do More 24 Delaware is a local movement that brings together nonprofit organizations, companies, and people committed to making a difference. Through focused online giving on June 1, 2017, Do More 24 provides the opportunity for people to create solutions to our region’s most difficult social challenges by determining which issues matter most to them and channeling their funding towards tackling those problems.

Brae’s Brown Bags is a participating organization and we’re thrilled to be one of the MANY organizations in Delaware who are trying to make our state and surrounding states a better place.

Donating $24 or more during the times listed below makes us eligible for additional prizes!

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For those of you new to 3B here is our mission statement:

3B Brae’s Brown Bags, founded by 13-year-old Braeden Mannering, provides homeless and low-income populations with access to healthy foods, clean water and contact information for additional services which can aid them. His ongoing mission is not only to feed people today, but to raise awareness about the problems of food insecurity and poverty, and empower and inspire youth across the nation to become part of the solution.

If you support this mission please consider donating $24 today during #DoMore24DE and see if you can match it up to an award time slot! We thank you so much for your support always!

Ag Day

Each year the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources hosts an Ag Day event on campus at the University of Delaware. Since we started 3B Brae’s Brown Bags nearly four years ago we have participated in the event, because food insecurity is directly related to agriculture in so many way. We know there is enough food produced in our country to feed every mouth, we also know that 40% of that food is wasted. If we work together with farmers, growers, producers, places who sell fresh produce, we can help to recover food and make a difference.

This year I was in Texas during Ag Day, but I was on the committee of students who planned the entire event and I am so proud of all they accomplished. The theme was a super hero theme. Farmers and agriculture researchers are definitely super heroes, they have the power to feed the world and protect the planet!

But all of us have the power to be our own super heroes and I see that each and every day when I am working with youth on the 3B mission, when I’m out on the street meeting people who are going through something rocky and can’t find their way out, or when we’re providing our brown bags to shelters and soup kitchens. I have met so many amazing volunteers who are now my personal heroes.

Including my parents who set up the table at Ag Day this year and spent the whole day their being 3B Champions!

Here are some photos from Ag Day 2017.

2nd Bi-Annual Coming Together Hunger Conference

Braeden and Christy, founder and co-founder of 3B

For the second year, Brae’s Brown Bags was able to work with the Food Bank of Delaware to co-host a hunger conference that included youth participants. Words really cannot begin to describe how impactful the event is for Braeden and myself. While planning the event takes a lot of time for us, since I work full-time at UD and Brae is a full-time 7th grade student, haha, all of the time and energy and creativity that is poured into this conference is completely worth it! This year we had so many amazing volunteers helping us and I have to say I am humbled that they generously donated a full day to assisting us with the conference, I hope they also found it impactful.

The 3B created “MONEY PIT”

I would like to thank my parents and my in-laws for their help with the conference. Our friend Michele Fidance and Mallory Stratton from the Jefferson Awards Foundation helped out at the legislative letter writing table. My friends Laura Nash and Katie Moore-Hughes for manning the money pit, which is an activity designed by Brae and myself to help teach students about nutrition facts, food access and food affordability. The money pit is one of the activities the students said they enjoyed the most. It requires a team effort, students seek through “food cards” hand made by Brae and myself, they then have to go up to board and see if the foods the picked are nutritious per MyPlate standards and then also see what their cost is per serving. The task is to figure out if a healthy meal can be made for $1.25 since one and a half billion people live on less than $1.25 per day across the world. 

Brae talking to students at letter writing table.

Every student had an opportunity to write a letter to a Delaware legislator including our state senators, Senator Carper and Senator Coons, our state house representative, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Governor Carney. We will be sorting and mailing these letters on the students behalf. We asked the students to provide a return address if they were able. The ages and backgrounds of those who attended were very diverse, we had students in elementary, middle and high school from public, charter and private schools attend from across the state of Delaware.

Learning about worms, gardening with Carrie Murphy, UD Extension

The University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension program provided three of our activity sessions including a healthy food demo, a sustainable gardening demo and a food waste activity named “Food Waste Warriors.” Their assistance with this conference and the energy they put into each session was absolutely remarkable. So many students were surprised to learn that some vegetable regenerate, so you don’t need to throw away those carrot stems.

Food Waste Warriors

There were students shocked to learn about the 40% of food wasted in the United States on a regular basis. And I know every student and chaperone who tasted one of the fruit smoothies wanted to get their hands on those recipes, which they were given to take home. Every student who attended left having learned something new and I hope they went home and told their parents all about their day.

The Bear-Glasgow YMCA fitness routine, “Born to Move Youth Fitness Program,” was a smashing success as well. They had kids doing yoga and dancing all in span of 10 minutes. I don’t know how they had the energy to rotate through seven groups of students and get them all pumped up each time, but they did! Their music kept all of us energized and they were very generous to help us pull of a very large mannequin challenge when the adults from the Food Bank’s portion of the event ventured over to take a sneak peek at the “kid track” of the conference.

Dr. Ramaswamy, NIFA director

A man I admire very much, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture with the United States Department of Agriculture, attended and took the time to talk with all of the students, chaperones and volunteers during their lunch break. He spoke about the movie Interstellar. In that movie, Matthew McConaughey’s character Cooper says, “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars. Now we just look down, and worry about our place in the dirt.” Dr. Ramaswamy explained that this is happening and that we need to really pay attention to our resources and how we take care of them so we can feed a growing population. He spoke about the need for young minds and innovation, for astronaut farmers 🙂

Bag packing

Of course we also made time to pack 200 brown bags of healthy food for our guests to take home with them so if they see someone in need they have something to give. Or, if they are living in a food insecure household they will have something extra to snack on when they get home.

Last but not least I would be remiss to not thank Juan Castellanos, my dear friend and colleague who took photos throughout the event. His photos are wonderful and I’m thrilled to be able to share them with all of you through our Flickr album. The photos included in this post are all taken by Juan.

Again, for more photos from this amazing event, please check out our Flickr Album.

Happy First Day of Spring

Before we get into the highlights of what has happened since our last update we want to make sure you have all registered for the Coming Together Hunger Conference. We are co-hosting with the Food Bank of Delaware and are SUPER excited about this year’s event! We are anticipating nearly 200 students to attend for the Kid Track, but we are hoping all of you will attend on the adult side. Don’t worry, even the adults will have a chance to see what the kids are doing throughout the day.

Coming Together will feature both an adult track and kids’ track, with opportunities for both groups to come together to identify solutions to issues related to hunger.

I promise you that you will leave feeling inspired and you will learn something. Plus I would like to see you out, because you know we can only end hunger if we do it together.

Okay so what have we been up to since our last post. A LOT! You know we say that every time. Haha.

There have been a few code purples called in Delaware. We thought our winter had been mild and really it has been but the last couple weeks of winter went out in style bringing us frigid temperatures snow and even an ice storm! It was beautiful, but it was also really bad news for my friends without addresses.

We had a table at the 1st Annual Christina School District Family Resource Fair which was a big success. Many people came out to see what the community has to offer and we heard that the New Castle County library exhibit handed out over 100 new library cards to people! That is VERY COOL! I couldn’t be there for the event so my family helped out. My brother and sister, Finn and Amelia, they set up the table and they were happy to be able to support 3B. Plus they got to eat pretzels and have their face painted!

Town Square Delaware wrote an article about me. Ms. Christy Fleming came to visit me at my house and she interviewed me. It was nice to meet her and I appreciate that she wanted to know more about Brae’s Brown Bags. Ms. Fleming’s article shares how 3B has grown, “3B Brae’s Brown Bags helps get healthy snacks to the homeless and the needy. But it takes lots of time and coordination, and Brae now also counts on donations by schoolmates and others who read his blog because the charity has gotten so big.”

I was able to be a speaker at the annual Delaware FFA Convention earlier this month. It was nice to see a room full of students who care about agriculture and who realize that food insecurity is a solvable problem. They packed almost 500 bags of healthy food for people in need. We brought some home and the rest remained in the Kent County area to help any shelters who might needs extra supplies.

I found out that I am  a recipient of a 2017 Sodexo Foundation – STOP Hunger Youth Grant! This makes me very happy because it helps to keep 3B sustainable, but it also helps to show other kids that there are organizations out there who believe in them and believe that we are change makers. The Sodexo Foundation and STOP Hunger are empowering, they not only want to help end hunger but they also want to get kids involved and I am glad I can be one of those champions.

Last but definitely not least. I took a trip with my Mom up to New York to attend the Jefferson Awards Foundation annual gala at Gotham Hall. Yes, it sounds like something right out of Batman and yes I do think that is really cool. It was super fancy. There were a lot of incredible people there and all of them believe in public service, it was super inspiring to be a part of the event. I feel very honored that I was able to receive an activation award (Newark Post) on the same stage as Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez and the great musician/social activist Harry Belafonte. Plus, I encourage all of you to look into the national LEAD360 winner for 2017! Her name is Emma Stumpf and she creates art kits to give to patients in children’s hospitals. She knows what it is like to be stuck in the walls of a hospital for long periods of time as she is fighting cancer and has been for many years. I didn’t get to meet her at the event because she was in the hospital having just come through her 17th brain surgery. She is definitely a huge inspiration! I hope you are willing to help her activate this project and help it to put smiles on the faces of kids across the country. I think it will be fun to help her with this project!

Public service, polar bears and music #LEAD360

The past few days have been so busy that I don’t know where to start so I’m just going to go in order of when it all happened.

So last week I found out that I was selected for the 2017 Christina School District Middle School Band. I play percussion. I’ll be playing the Timpani. So that’s really cool and my family is really proud of me and excited for me. A few of my friends also made it, like Milan, he plays trumpet.

brae-voteSo I found out that I am in the top 5 projects across the nation for the Jefferson Awards LEAD360 Challenge. The winning project gets activated nationwide which means we will be able to launch 3B Ripples across the country and help provide people in need everywhere with healthy food while also activating the service project in schools across the US. The winner is picked based on voting. You can vote on the LEAD360 Web Page and also on the Jefferson Awards Facebook page.

indyAnd then the Jefferson Awards Foundation has Students in Action projects over the weekend. And it was really cool because Central Indiana packed Brae’s Brown Bags! They even did an awesome #mannequinchallenge while packing and I’m definitely going to plan on doing that during our hunger conference in April. So even though I couldn’t be there they still included me on everything because they were tweeting to me and sharing the process. I was able to record a quick message for them, too. So I was able to let them know that I am grateful for their service.

braeseafordThen on Saturday in Seaford, Delaware, my Mom and I visited their Students in Action and I was able to talk to some of the students. They packed about 80 bags of healthy food which was then donated to Jim Martin at the ACE Peer Resource Center in Seaford.

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Please take time to watch a video about the ACE Peer Resource Center. Jim Martin has been alone, he has been there, he has been homeless, he knows what that feels like on a personal level. He talked to us to try and help us understand. When someone comes in off the street they are exhausted, they are alone, they are hungry and sometimes all the need is a warm place to sit, to get something to eat and put on a pair of new socks. He is a very good man and he is helping a lot of people. I’m proud of the Students in Action for their service and I’m happy the ACE Peer Resource Center received the bags.

c36o9okvyaauqv3Then on Sunday the 3B team went to Rehoboth Beach to do the Polar Bear Plunge! We raised over $1,000 for the Special Olympics! My stepdad took this picture with me, mom Mom, my brother Finn and my sister Amelia. Before we jumped into the 41 degree water. Well, me, my Mom and my Gram went in the water. I still can’t believe my Mom and my Gram went in the water. But they did! My Dad and Mom Mom and brother Michael and my Grandmom and Grandpop and Aunt Kristin were all there to watch us be crazy! The radio said over $900,000 was raised all together by the plungers yesterday!

So please vote for me in the LEAD360 Challenge! You can vote once per day it ends on Tuesday, February 14 at midnight.

Thank you in advance!

#Hello2017

hello2017While Braeden and I ended 2016 with the flu and pneumonia, we were able to begin 2017 feeling MUCH better and hopeful for a bright new year. Braeden tweeted on New Years saying, “This year let your light shine! Make the choice to believe that 2017 is going to be amazing.” I absolutely love that sentiment. Way to go, Brae!

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Finn, Amelia and Tom Parkins from Calvary Baptist

My other two kids, Finn and Amelia, were able to help me deliver 3B bags to Calvary Baptist Church on Christmas Eve which has become an annual Christmas tradition for us since we started 3B. We provided bags for all of the homeless guests who partook in their Christmas Eve festivities. Thanks to my Aunt Mares we were also able to provide hats, scarves and gloves.

While Brae was sick my sweet Finn really stepped up. At first he didn’t want to leave his Google Santa Tracker, but when I explained that tracking the houses Santa stops at is fun to do. but not everyone has a house. So for those people we get to be Santa! He put on his Santa hat immediately and was ready to go!

It feels so good to be able to play Santa every now and then.

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One of the photos of some fantastic kids at MOT Charter (other photos are on our Facebook page)

MOT Charter invited Braeden to speak to the 2nd and 3rd graders a few days before Christmas (when he was still healthy). We are absolutely amazed and humbled to report they packed 426 bags! They also donated a car load of books and healthy snacks for us to use in making additional bags.

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The Power Of One

When we initially walked into the school one of the first things we saw was a showcase that featured Braeden! Of course I had him stand near it so I could take a picture, but honestly, normally you see trophies in cases like this and to see 3B featured felt pretty incredible. The showcase was titled “The Power of One” and it inside were pictures of Brae’s last visit to MOT Charter as well as quotes printed out from Brae’s talk. It definitely helped both of us to feel even more inspired that day. And to see  all the great work MOT Charter has done in helping to provide healthy food to those in need in their community via Our Daily Bread and with help from the Jefferson Awards Foundation.

Less than a week prior to the MOT Charter visit we received word that our 3B Ripple at Caravel Academy packed 131 bags! We were able to use some of those bags on Christmas Eve for those in need!

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3B Ripple – Caravel Cares Club (3C)

The generosity and compassion I see in these young students overwhelms me with joy. I know it means a great deal to Braeden as well. When he is invited to speak at a school he is always very excited to hear that the kids will ask him after his talk. And as his Mom, I love being able to see him interact with youth and empower them to be involved in what he is doing, but also to dream big with their own ideas on how they can help their community.

So we hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays! We also wish you a new year filled with happiness, love and laughter. Be the light in the world, be the change!

– Christy, Brae’s Mom

Helping people in Tennessee

15317992_1294447660598964_8130073004947340107_nWhen Braeden heard about the wildfires in Tennessee which left so many people homeless and heartbroken he immediately told me that he wanted to help them like we did with folks in Flint, Michigan and in Louisiana. So we created a care package which includes special 3B bags and sent it to Sevier County, Tennessee! We hope when it arrives that the bags will be given to people in need and that those people will find hope in them. Each bag has a note letting the recipient know there are people in Delaware praying for them.

Brae reached out to make sure the package was received. Three people from the University of Tennessee responded to let us know they were received and very much needed due to the extensive damage caused by the fires.

One of the emails said, “Braeden,

Thank you for thinking of those affected by the fires in Tennessee and sending the gift bags.  As Mr. Bruhin said, they were received and in fact we will be distributing them tomorrow to 4-H members and their families who have lost everything in the fires.  They arrived on Tuesday [last week], so the timing is perfect.  They are a great fit with some of the other gifts we are sharing with Sevier County 4-H members.

Thank you again for thinking of us and thank you for serving others in this way.

Glenn”

For those of you wondering how you can help please check out this CNN page:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/us/iyw-tennessee-wildfires-how-to-help/

Meeting UD resident advisors, and our younger student ripples, plus #givingtuesday

A couple weeks ago Braeden had an opportunity to meet several resident advisors from Residence Life and Housing at the University of Delaware. He was given the chance to talk with them about Brae’s Brown Bags and about how he thinks we can all really make big positive changes in the world if we work together. We had a bunch of technical glitches and my other two kids, Finn and Amelia, joined us for the outing which is not our typical program. However, I think the unusual moments made the evening all the more amazing.

This group of UD students were all incredibly kind people who treated all of us like we belonged. Which made it no surprise to hear Braeden tell them he hopes to go to the University of Delaware for college someday. We’ll see, as I know when he gets older he might start thinking about going somewhere not so close to home. Although as a Blue Hen alum myself of course I want him to go to UD.

The group packed 120 bags of healthy food for the Newark community. Many of the bags included new socks thanks to youth at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Odessa, Delaware who donated several bags of socks to 3B in late October.

Earlier in November Braeden also made a trip to The College School at the University of Delaware. He was able to talk with two sessions of kids who were a little bit younger than him, but he told them he started 3B when he was just 9 years old and they seemed pretty excited to hear that information. The kids asked a lot of great questions and wanted to know more about where Braeden has visited over the last few years. He let them know that aside from the Radio Disney Music Awards his other favorite visits have been at the White House.

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The College School kids are an official 3B Ripple. Last year they packed hundreds of bags for those in need in Newark and this year they plan to do more!

15138578_1273541539356243_8901357944699802637_oAnother one of our 3B Ripples with the Circle of Friends Daycare packed 70 bags of healthy food prior to their Thanksgiving break. This is our youngest group which just goes to show that you can make a difference even in diapers! Thank you so much to “Small Hands, Big Hearts” your ripple makes us very proud!

One more thing to let you know is that today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a day to take a a break from the searching out the best deals for holiday shopping to support causes that means the most to you. With your support Brae’s Brown Bags has been able to grow a great deal since 2013 and we are so grateful! [ Donate to 3B ]

We have been able to visit dozens of schools and attend various forums and conferences so Braeden can share his ideas about nutritional security and what can be done to fix it. We have also been able to provide over 8,000 bags of healthy food to those in need in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Louisiana. We even were able to send 20 cases of clean water to Flint, Michigan during their water crisis.

With your help we will be able to continue supporting other hunger relief programs and organizations as well as do our best to educate youth about what they can do to make a difference. Thank you! #GivingTuesday

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https://www.facebook.com/donate/10154041557221570/?fundraiser_source=feed

Have a blessed day filled with light and laughter!

  • Christy, Brae’s Mom

 

3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration Follow-Up #betterlatethannever

brae-celebrationMy apologies for taking so long to write this post. Things get away from me and from Braeden sometimes.

During the celebration, Brae said something that I would like to share for those who were unable to attend.

“Some days it seems like all you hear is bad news. It doesn’t have to be that way. I have learned this over the last couple years. Because even when something bad happens it is up to us to turn it around, to shine the light in the darkness and step out of the shadow. … imagine all the good news we can create, imagine all the people we can help.” – Braeden Mannering, August 20, 2016

We had our 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration the end of August and even though it was super hot out we had a pretty great turn out. Thank you to all who came out to the Bear-Glasgow YMCA for the event.

A big thanks to our sponsors this year: Bear-Glasgow YMCA, 93.7 WSTW, Crop Foundation (food and amazing culinary instructor Kip Poole and his talented students), UD Fresh to You (Michael Popovich and farm interns for providing veggies and fruit), UDairy Creamery, R.T. Graham (Keene art teacher from the Christina School District), Speakman, Inflatables R’ Fun, Love What You Boo, Del-One Federal Credit Union, Dover Federal Credit Union, Gerri and Bill Irish, Greg and Margie Mannering, Circle of Friends Daycare, Terri, Todd and Kristin Stephan, Transportation Communications Union IAM Unit #86, Stampin’ Up, Picaboo, Food for Thought Cards and Lynda Pusey with her Jamberry basket.

ladder12A very special thanks to Ladder 12 of the Christiana Fire Company for surprising us and bringing two trucks out to the event. The kids, and us grown ups, really loved seeing all of the firefighters and being able to climb up on the trucks to check out all the gadgets. All of you are so awesome. We thank you for your service each and every day!

Check out 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration by Kristin Stephan!

During this event I always have an opportunity to share Brae’s adventures through my eyes. Whereas he is always busy inspiring and encouraging other people to get involved, I’m sitting back and watching this amazing young person be a leader for our community. Brae is often called a young hero. He doesn’t look at himself that way, but I definitely do. Whereas some people spent their afternoon at a movie which could potentially gross millions of dollars, our friends, family and 3B supporters came out to a pavilion for delicious food, awesome giveaways and many of them packed bags for those in need.  Thank you to Sodexo employee Toni Ciccone for helping with the 3B bag packing station! And all of these things, hearing Brae talk, seeing people selflessly pack bags for those in need, being able to interact with the community and raise money for hunger relief, all of those things are absolutely priceless to me.

Seeing him up on stage addressing a group of people who came out to support him and our 3B cause is something I can’t accurately put into words for you. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to all of you for helping 3B grow and for encouraging Braeden to be the very special kid that he is. We truly live in such an amazing state!

Again, please do Check out 3rd Annual 3B Summer Celebration by Kristin Stephan!

Yes, she even snapped when I went down the water slide, which was super fun!

Once again, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your continued support!