ABC By Lucy Robinson Sep 2021
Strangers have banded together to attend a three-year-old's birthday party in a regional Queensland city after all her friends had to cancel. Her mother says she was amazed by the community's response.
Tiarna Davis's heart was ready to break when she realised she might have to tell her three-year-old that no-one was coming to her birthday party.
But the kindness of a group of strangers ensured Arabella didn't have to celebrate alone.
"Over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, everyone that I had actually invited to the party had slowly begun pulling out," Ms Davis said.
"Come Sunday morning everyone that was invited had actually pulled out.
"I was just ready to burst into tears."
The Toowoomba mum put out a call on a Facebook group asking people to consider attending the party with their children.
The response amazed her.
"My phone just would not stop going off," she said.
"Anyone that said they would come I was sending my address to — my backyard was pretty much full.
"There were so many kids here.
"She was just running around playing with them, bouncing between children.
"I did get quite emotional myself, because I wasn't expecting it to turn out the way that it did."
'Honestly had no idea'
Ms Davis said it was daunting to ask for help on a public forum not knowing if she would be ignored or even criticised for her actions.
"I was scared — I'd written a post twice before I actually pressed to confirm to post it," she said.
"I honestly had no idea how it was going to pan out.
"So I just put it up on Facebook, hoping that someone would turn out to appreciate the effort I'd put in for her and help her celebrate her day.
"The Toowoomba community has shown me that it is there to support people when you are in need."
The event has led to new friendships for Ms Davis and Arabella.
"She wasn't really fazed that none of her friends were here, because she had the chance to make new friends," Ms Davis said.
"We've arranged quite a few play dates for when we're not so busy.
"I ended up spending $200 on pizza to feed everyone, there was that many people that came."
'My heart felt so full'
Emmalee Lockwood was in her pyjamas making pancakes with her six-month-old son when she saw Ms Davis's post.
"It broke my heart," she said.
"It hit home that I never want my child to go through something similar to that, so we decided to pop down and do a good deed for the day."
Despite being told no presents were necessary, Ms Lockwood grabbed a doll from the supermarket on the way.
"You can't turn up to a party without a present," she said.
She estimated there were 30-40 other parents and children at the party.
"Everyone just got along," she said.
"'I struggle with social anxiety and stuff like that, and so it was really hard for me to go.
"But I've made forever friends. We're all going to catch up for coffee."
She said it had inspired her to be more open to interactions with strangers.
"It's nice for people to step out of their comfort zone," Ms Lockwood said.
"My heart felt so full."
Not sure what the situation is like pandemic wise in Towoomba - must have been OK mothers would not put their little kids at risk.
On reflecting about this article, Emmalee's story is precious like Tiarna's because social anxiety is not easily overcome usually and just to think she made new friends there. Tiarna made some more too - I am very happy for her that a day that would have been dismal turned out to be bright and cheerful. Had to pass it on!