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Lifestyle & Human Interest

After Struggling Mom Asks for Cake Mix for Son's Birthday, Community Rallies To Throw Boy 'Toy Story' Party

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Most parents long to give their children the world, and anytime there’s a crunch they’ll make sacrifices to make sure their child gets priority. When that comes to time constraints, it’s a decision mostly up to the parents.

When there are financial constraints, the decisions get a little more difficult. Many families struggle to acquire necessities, let alone non-essentials, and sometimes when it comes down to it, they could use a little extra help.

Mayra Vasquez-Ruiz of Imperial Beach, California, wanted to celebrate her son Abel’s 4th birthday, but she didn’t have what she needed. Her son, who has Down syndrome, loves “Toy Story,” so she wanted to give him something with that theme.

“As a mom of four, it’s hard,” she told KFMB-TV. “I want to give my kids everything I can.”

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Turning to a local Facebook group for help, she was shocked when offers started pouring in — and went way above her initial ask of cake mix and Toy-Story-themed party decorations.

“As soon as someone posted, ‘Oh yeah, I have cake mix,’ I was excited, I was like ‘Yes, I have him a cake,'” she said.

Soon, multiple people offered baked goods, help decorating and even to bring gifts for the 4-year-old. Someone even said they’d bring a pony to the event for pony rides.

“Late at night when it just hit me I’m like, ‘Oh my god, he’s not getting just a small cake he is getting a birthday party,'” Vasquez-Ruiz said.

Vasquez-Ruiz’s mom, who hosted the party, was just as stunned. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I kept asking her, are you sure, are you sure?”

The offers meant so much to Vasquez-Ruiz, especially because the year before, the birthday she’d planned for Abel wasn’t as special as she’d hoped. There were only a few guests that showed up, but this year was very, very different.

After over 200 responses flooded in, the grateful mom had to refuse offers and limit the guest list because of how many people were willing to get involved and participate.

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“Me and my family are so grateful for what you did for our son Abel. We can’t thank you enough,” she said. “Imperial Beach made that happen. That big smile on my son’s face.”

“I met a grateful family in a selfless community!” KFMB-TV reporter Abbie Alford posted on Monday. “Mom went to an Imperial Beach Facebook page asking for cake mix and decorations for her son, Abel’s 4th birthday, and the community response is a great act of kindness!”


Photos show the 4-year-old clearly enjoying himself, the generosity of the community only matched by the joy in the young boy’s smile.

“It was really exciting to see Abel smile,” his uncle, Jose Ruiz, told KMFB-TV. “He’s just a really special kid.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking