Woman Celebrates Her Birthday Every Year With Barbecue for Those Who Can't Afford a Meal
Birthdays are a day to celebrate yourself, but one California woman decided to make it about a good deed for others instead.
Jennifer Hubbard of Napa celebrated her 28th birthday last weekend by hosting her second annual "BBQ for the Hungry," for which she invited hundreds of less fortunate people in her community, and served them hot dogs, burgers, ribs, sodas and various other treats.
"We put out blankets and laid on the grass. We had music going. It was a couple hours of hanging out," Hubbard told InsideEdition.com. "It's been a lot more gratifying that way."
Though Hubbard said she remembers growing up in a household that struggled financially, she was baffled when she learned some people couldn't even afford a meal.
"[My parents] went Dumpster-diving for furniture and made regular trips to Goodwill, but I was always fed," Hubbard recalled. "So I never understood. It just blew my mind away that someone could go without a meal."
But Hubbard said for a few years, she, too, experienced times where the only place she had to sleep was in her car, or a friend's couch.
"I actually had a lot of bad birthdays," said Hubbard, who now works at an IT specialist for the Napa County Department of Education. "So I said, 'Forget it. My birthday's not for me anymore. I'm going to make it about other people,' and it's been a lot more gratifying that way."
On her 27th birthday, Hubbard hosted her first "BBQ for the Hungry." She distributed flyers to local homeless shelters and people on the streets, inviting more than 250 people for a day of food and fun in the park.
"Last year, we ran out [of food] and people were still coming up," Hubbard recalled, "So we went out and got more food. We ended up giving [everyone else] our leftovers."
Last weekend, on Hubbard's 28th birthday, she prepared extra meals in advance, and had enough to feed 300 people.
"Seeing a lot more families show up this year — that really warms my heart," Hubbard said. "Just hearing people's stories and [hearing] 'happy birthday.' The whole experience, it's awesome."
With the help of her GoFundMe page, she was even able to afford extras to give away, including "blessing bags" that contained toiletries and socks, and a raffle for gift cards.
"It's money to get to an interview, or the means to take a shower to be able to smell appropriately," she said. "It's just so difficult to get back on [your] feet if you have nothing."
Though she spent more than four months preparing for this year's event, she's excited for her next to be bigger than ever, which is why she's already started planning for her 29th birthday.
"It takes a lot, so this year, I'm planning all year long," she said.
To support her mission, visit Hubbard's GoFundMe page.