The 11-year-old almost had to cancel his annual charity kick-off — until Ormond Lanes saved the day.
Like most elementary school kids, Matthew Monroe looks forward to his birthday every year. But unlike most elementary school kids, Monroe doesn't anticipate many presents for himself.
Instead, the 11-year-old Ormond Beach resident and Pine Trail Elementary fifth-grader has asked his friends and family to donate shoes to Soles4Souls since he was 5 years old. This charitable birthday theme has not only become an anticipated event among Monroe's friends and family, but had also inspired his friends to do similar things for their birthday parties. So when his birthday/shoe drive kick-off party, which is typically held outside, was almost cancelled, Monroe and his mother were worried about what that might do for the charity.
"I was so stressed about the weather and most of my friends said to cancel it," said Matthew Monroe's mother, Cynthia Monroe, "but if I go into Christmas without the kick-off party, it would feel like I’m missing a step."
Cynthia Monroe posted about her concerns on Facebook, and her friend and Ormond Lanes Lounge Manager Tina Kirk saw it and talked to her boss about being able to host the party at the bowling alley. Under new management since October, Kirk said the new owners of Ormond Lanes are interested in having a more generous spirit and giving back to the community. So Matthew Monroe and his 46 friends were able to celebrate his birthday and his favorite charity at the alley for free.
"They gave us eight lanes of bowling and shoes for two and half hours," Cynthia Monroe said. "Those kids had the best time. We always get this many kids because we ask for donations so we get to invite the world."
"I was really surprised," Matthew Monroe said. "It was really fun and we got a lot shoes. Just helping other people it felt really good."
The fundraiser gathered 162 shoes and the Monroe's will be setting up bins at Ormond Beach Elementary School, Ormond Beach Middle School and Pine Trail Elementary to collect more through the holidays.
"I had 11,022 in my mini van last year," Cynthia Monroe laughed. "The kids are open to it. They want to do stuff."
"We all should give back to the community," said Kirk, "in any way we can."