Lily Mein’s eighth birthday party was not the same as her peers’.
Instead of pink party favors and pony rides, Mein invited her friends to Stulsaft Park in Redwood City for a cleanup project last month.
According to the 8-year-old’s mother, Lily was adamant about picking up trash, setting up recycling bins and hosting a scavenger hunt in the park.
“It’s something I never considered doing,” Nancy Mein said of her daughter. “But she really wanted to move forward.”
Nancy Mein said her daughter is a member of the Girl Scouts and her father is an “environmental freak,” but she never expected to throw a cleanup party for her daughter. She said she feared she was doing it for the wrong reasons — such as recognition.
But that’s not the case, Nancy Mein said.
“She was surprised this is becoming such a big deal,” she said. “Her dad grew up going to Tahoe, so he takes ownership and picks up trash there. When we’re walking to school, she’ll run into the street to get a plastic bag. This is what she does. She cares.”
Redwood City Parks Superintendent Chris Beth said he, too, was surprised to learn of Mein’s birthday party plans, but was also pleased by it.
“I’d never heard of this for a girl’s themed birthday party,” he said. “But I think it’s great and it’s a great way to give back.”
Stulsaft Park runs along a creek in western Redwood City. The girls cleaned up trash and other debris. Beth said the city provided the reserved picnic tables free of charge and provided each of the girls with debris bags, disposable gloves and official park shirts.
For the recycling project, Nancy Mein said she and her daughter collected old tissue boxes, made them into buckets and used them to collect items for the scavenger hunt.
Because of her efforts and ideas, the Redwood City City Council will even throw a birthday party of sorts in her honor to extend their appreciation to the young resident. Beth said the elected officials wanted to do thank Lily for her work.
“Because of the budget situation, our mayor is encouraging giving back to your community,” he said. “This is a great example of that.”
Eight girls came to the cleanup party.
“It feels terrific,” Nancy Mein said of her daughter’s efforts. “But it also doesn’t surprise me. She always wants to do the right thing and she feels this was the right thing.”