About Cheerful Givers

When I started Cheerful Givers in 1993, with 12 birthday bags, I never imagined that this charity would serve more than 1,000,000 children living in poverty. Through the years, so many wonderful people have contributed their time and money, and companies have donated products, and foundations have gifted us money, to provide birthday gifts to low income parents so that they can have the joy of celebrating their children.
As I look back, I am amazed at what we have accomplished together. I want to thank each and every one of the cheerful givers, who have made happiness happen for less fortunate children. With all my heart, I love and appreciate all of our cheerful givers, and all of our cheerful receivers!

Mission and Values.

We provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a HAPPY birthday. We believe this simple gesture boosts self-esteem, enhances self-worth, and strengthens bonds in families. Our Vision: That one day, all parents living in poverty are able to celebrate and recognize their child's birthday. We value Human Dignity, responsible Stewardship and Building Community.

Human Dignity

Celebrating individuals and families through selfless giving and volunteering; Enhancing a sense of self-worth and hope in families living in poverty; Anonymously providing our services to those in need; Equally acknowledging the lives of all members of our community.


Insisting on fiscal responsibility; Using measurable results to monitor our progress; Growing the outreach of Cheerful Givers; Recognizing our volunteers and contributors; Serving cheerfully and with dedication.

Community Building

Inspiring others to make a positive impact through cheerful giving; Sustaining strong relationships with our community partners; Building awareness, compassion, and a caring spirit toward families who cannot otherwise celebrate their children’s birthdays.


How It All Began …

  • I was immediately inspired to start Cheerful Givers when I visited a food shelf and was told that less fortunate parents often have to choose between putting food on the table or purchasing a gift for their child’s birthday. If they don’t have any money, they are sometimes forced to give cereal or canned vegetables as birthday gifts to their children. Believe it or not, I heard angel’s sing. I knew I had found a beautiful way to help children and their parents. A few days later, I brought 12 birthday bags to the food shelf. I prayed that parents that needed the gift bags would find them. The next day, I got a call that my first gift bag went out to a mother that had transferred the bus three times to get to the food shelf to get a boxed cake for her child’s birthday. She said, “I prayed the whole way over here that there would be something for my child, but I never imagined it would be something so beautiful.” That was how it all began.

  • My gift was an answer to a Mom’s prayer. To this day, the gifts are donated to parents so that they can recognize and celebrate their children. It’s truly been an honor to help parents, who during difficult times worry about what they can provide for their child’s birthday. Parents call me and say, “My daughter keeps asking me what I am going to get her for her birthday and I just can’t tell her that I don’t have any money for a gift. Can you please, please help me?” I’m happy to say that we have been helping parents celebrate their children since my first birthday bag in 1993.

    I started Cheerful Givers, in 1994, because I knew that I could help parents by providing birthday gifts through the food shelves. Now, they don’t have to choose between food and a birthday gift — they can have both.

Meet the Team.



Robin Zelaya distributed the first birthday bags in September of 1993, and founded Cheerful Givers in March of 1994. She is an author, speaker, counselor, and has her doctorate in Human Services with a focus on human and spiritual development. Dr. Robin believes that every Happy birthday for a child at-risk creates a better future for our world.



Lisa Hertel is a professional with a background in Communications and Non-profit management. She has been a volunteer for Cheerful Givers for many years and has enlisted the help of her Girl Scout Troop to make gift bags. This year, she became an officer in the Treasurer position.



Beverly Challgren is a retired Executive Secretary who is using all of her multi-tasking skills of her former corporate life in her volunteer efforts for Cheerful Givers. Beverly has organized, moved boxes, made gift bags, and recently volunteered for the office of Secretary for Cheerful Givers.



Sponsors are individuals or corporate contributors who make a strong financial commitment to the putting the HAPPY in children's birthdays. Please click the button to see the list of companies who are a valuable part of our Cheerful Givers team.

List of our Sponsors

  • Twins Wives Organization n- Cheerful Givers
    Minnesota Twins; Target Field; Minneapolis Minnesota


So many volunteers and so little space. We have many awesome volunteers and every one is part of the Cheerful Team. Thank you to all of our volunteers for making so much happiness happen for kids that deserve to be celebrated.

Send e-mails to companies to secure products, schedule deliveries
Recruit volunteers, scheduling volunteers, sending our communications to volunteers.
Research grant prospects, send grant requests
Post Cheerful Givers messages on Social Media sites
Schedule and assist with all events held at White Bear Lake location
Sort donated books into age categories
Make deliveries of gift bags to food shelves, as well as pickups of donations
Organizing products in the St. Louis Park warehouse, assist in deliveries to White Bear Lake facility
o Create and advertise a toy drive, hand out bags that can be filled with toys and returned to Cheerful Givers

We hope that you will consider volunteering with us. Please call or e-mail for more information, 612-562-4499 or robin@cheerfulgivers.org


Click the link to see our annual report infographic. We are producing great birthday gifts that parents are proud to give their children. Your donations are making a great impact. Here is a quote from a thankful parent ... "Thank you so much for the gift. You can't imagine how relieved I am that I have a great gift for my daughter! Words can't express my gratitude."

Annual Infographic