Although Kim and Rebecca Banker are celebrating with a masquerade ball, the purpose behind the Lusby twins’ “sweet 16” party is anything but hidden.
Rebecca said she had known for years that she wanted her 16th birthday party to have a charitable aspect. Persuading her twin sister, Kim, to agree wasn’t difficult.
On Jan. 12, the sisters, who are freshmen at Patuxent High School, hosted a birthday party in which they accepted donations for the St. Mary’s Hospital children’s ward and the Tri-County Animal Shelter rather than gifts.
They received seven 20-pound bags of kitty litter; dog and cat food; several dog toys; board games, memory games and decks of cards; bags full of stuffed animals; and $282 in cash donations, said their mother, Jada Stuckert.
Rebecca said she visited the animal shelter about six years ago looking to adopt a dog.
“The first time we went to the shelter, it was run down, and they didn’t have enough toys for the dogs to play with,” Rebecca said.
Kim said they got the idea to collect donations for the hospital when their brother was having surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm.
“We were so bored, and there was nothing to do,” said Kim, who said they immediately thought of kids who had to be at the hospital for longer periods.
“We want there to be something for the kids to do,” Kim said.
Before their birthday party, the twins told their friends they would accept donations such sa dog food, dog toys, cat litter, board games, stuffed animals and gift cards to pet stores.
“Anything not used that either kids can play with or dogs can play with,” Rebecca said.
The girls said this was the first time they’ve held a charitable birthday.
“Sweet 16 is supposed to be special, and you’re supposed to have fun, and I’ve been waiting forever for this party,” Rebecca said.
The girls said they were expecting about 150 people at their party. They said they got the idea for a masquerade party by looking up popular sweet 16 ideas online.
While they said they would not accept gifts, even from their family, they will share a car once they take their learner’s permit tests.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Stuckert said of her daughters’ birthday party decision. “I asked them about 15 times if that’s what they really want to do, because they’re 16-year-old girls. . . . I was a little surprised but not overly shocked, because they’re good kids.”
Volunteer work also is not new for the twins, who said they recently participated in a Toys for Tots collection with their school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, of which they are members.
Rebecca said she felt proud of what they’re accomplishing through their birthday party.
“You’re helping the dogs and the animals when they can’t help themselves,” she said, adding that the hospital donations gave her a sense of accomplishment. “Just imagining a kid playing with a toy and having fun. It makes me proud, because I love toys.”