Bringing a Little Bit of Sunshine to a Small Town

April 03, 2020

GRAND SALINE—In a time where birthday celebrations and parties, with family and friends, are an almost every day occurance, some kids do not get to partake. When the 6 foot rule and 10 people or less order came into action due to an ongoing frightening pandemic, many kids were left celebrating their birthday in isolation. Whether you are three or fifteen years old, a birthday without friends is no fun.
Grand Saline resident Amber Savallo, a mother of four, came up with an idea to do a Birthday Train. She said, “I kept seeing on Facebook where birthday parties were getting canceled and these babies were just so upset and didn’t understand why their parties were being canceled. I knew I had to think of something to make them smile!” Savallo continued, “You know the saying, you don’t know what you got til it’s gone? Man. That’s so true. HUMAN INTERACTION IS LIFE! Social distancing STINKS! When you’re an extrovert and you get quarantined, that’s bad. But when your KIDS are extroverts and they’re quarantined and don’t understand why school is closed, why they can’t see their friends, can’t see their teachers, why they can’t hug everyone, why they have to stay 10 feet away, THAT’S REALLY BAD!”
Savallo explained that she asked on Facebook whose kid had a birthday in March or April and from that message, a few people responded. She took it a step further and posted in the COVID 19 Van Zandt County Support group on Facebook and asked if anyone had birthdays and also if anyone would like to help her with a project. Savallo said, “I had a few responses from there as well. So I made a little group chat which turned into a Facebook GROUP and everyone started inviting everyone and I started getting messages from people I didn’t know asking me to add their kids birthday.” Savallo mentioned her goal was to bring just a little bit of sunshine into these dark days for these babies.
Savallo said they all had a moment of prayer Wednesday afternoon for the rain to hold off. “God is SO GOOD! There were showers from 4 p.m.- 6 p.m. then NO RAIN once we started decorating! God knew what He was doing!” She said with gratitude. Wednesday evening Savallo had everyone from outside city limits and from Fruitvale to meet at Means Home Center and made a map of all the addresses in town. She added all three nursing homes to the map as well. Savallo exclaimed, “We had a blast! We ALL practiced social distancing! We didn’t get out of our cars. No one threw anything! We just honked and waved and spread some love and light! The experience was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. There were a few kids who didn’t know the birthday train was coming by. The look on their faces were PRICELESS.” Messages on Facebook spoke of the appreciation of the Birthday Train: “Made me cry when I heard all those kids hollering my name! Y’all have totally made my day and week. Staying home isn’t all it’s put up to be! I miss my sweet babies!” Dorothea Perritt commented. “We all greatly appreciate everyone making their days special in these times!!! SMALL TOWNS ROCK!” Responded Morgan Means under a Facebook post. Savallo added, “It seems that not only these birthday babies needed this sunshine, but EVERYONE!”
The Birthday Train was a big success with the Grand Saline and Fruitvale communities love and support. “I’m so thankful and grateful for everyone who participated! The train was LONG!!! And we had so many birthdays to celebrate!” Savallo expressed. She listed Courtney Harrell, Ashley Munn and Lisa Cobb as people that helped in making this happen. “I can’t thank them enough!” Savallo added, “You NEVER know who needs a smile. Just ONE can turn someone’s entire day around. This is a very hard time for all of us. I’m just so incredibly happy I was able to pull this off! The outpouring of love and support of this community is like no other. Thank you from the bottom of my Mama heart to EVERYONE who participated!”