A group of Whitehall middle school students spent last Saturday partying like it was 1999, all in the name of a good cause.
Half a dozen seventh-graders, all of whom celebrate or have recently celebrated their 13th birthdays, invited the class of 2017 to the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company firehouse for a black light party.
But there were no gifts, at least for those celebrating their birthdays. There were, however, plenty of gifts for the Whitehall food pantry.
Instead of bringing gifts for the birthday kids, organizers encouraged partygoers to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the food pantry on behalf of the seventh-grade class.
And after the music had finally died, and the kids had gone home, presumably with sore feet and full stomachs from an afternoon of dancing and snacks, organizers had collected several boxes of food for the pantry.
The party was organized by the parents of the children celebrating their birthdays: Genevieve Scott, Zac Barber, Garrett Stevens, Jason Ashline, Noah Ramey and Steven Gosselin.
“Everything was organized by the parents of the six kids,” said Tammy Stevens, whose son Garrett celebrated his 13th birthday. “All the parents pitched in.”
The second floor of the firehouse was transformed into a children’s night club. The windows were covered with black garbage bags and posters featuring the names of each of the birthday celebrants.
Each of the birthday kids wore T-shirts with their names, specially designed for the party by Scott’s sister, and every child received fluorescent colored glow sticks, which were eagerly turned into wardrobe accessories.
There were also posters on each table featuring fun facts from 1999, the year a majority of the students were born, as well as plenty of loud music played by a deejay the students knew quite well, Greg Chappell, dean of students at Whitehall.
“It’s kind of cool. Normally we don’t want to see him, but today we do,” said Ashline.
And judging by the dancing and singing, his song selection went over quite well, as did the party as a whole.
“It’s better than a normal party,” Ramey said.
Scott, who shares a birthday with Stevens, said it was nice not to have to compete with multiple birthday parties on the same day.
More importantly, the students seemed to derive some joy from helping out the less fortunate by collecting some food for the pantry.
“It feels good,” said Stevens.
“You never know. Someday you may need to go to the food pantry and get food,” added Ashline.