By Ukee Washington

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Presents, cakes, candles. For most boys and girls, they come around once a year. But some children aren’t so lucky.

Now, one local woman and her daughter are going the extra mile to brighten birthdays for children in need.

Take a sneak peek inside the brand new venture Operation Birthday Box, and you’ll see lots of things: sidewalk chalk, bubbles, coloring books, crayons, glow bracelets. The containers are crammed with presents for a young girl or boy on their special day, and all of it is the brainchild of Christa Nielsen.

“My daughter had been inquiring about her birthday and kept asking and rattling off a list of many gifts that she wanted,” Nielsen says. “I said, ‘You know, there are children out there that don’t get anything for their birthday,’ and that just triggered it all.”

Nielsen is the founder of Operation Birthday Box, and her daughter Jonna jumped at the chance to help.

“It’s just so much fun,” says Jonna Neilsen. “I love packing the boxes; it makes me feel so special, and it reminds us that there are kids out there that don’t get things for their birthday like we do.”

The boxes come together with the help of donations. Community members fill them up and send them to Christa, who adds the finishing touches.

Nielsen teamed up with Melissa Mantz, Development Officer for the Bucks County Housing Group, who will distribute the boxes among the more than 170 children at the county’s shelter units.

“The families that come here are at a really low point in their life,” explains Mantz. “This kind of outreach and this kind of gift, especially for children, tells the family, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about you, you count, we want you to succeed.’ This is why this is such a great effort. It’s a community member that just reached out one day and made this happen, and it’s pretty moving.”

The boxes will be delivered monthly, and volunteers say the benefits will be easy to see.

“The excitement on the children’s faces, the ‘somebody thought about me, I am special,’” said Kate Bianchini, a volunteer coordinator at Bucks County Housing Group in Doylestown. “It’s a win-win. A win for the children that are giving, and a win for the children that are getting.

Christa and Jonna want Operation Birthday Box to grow, but they need help from the community. For more information, visit:

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