Generous Hampstead girl swaps birthday presents for charity donations

When you are about to turn eight years old a mountain of presents is normally all you can think about – but one Hampstead girl has more important things on her mind.

Erin Barrekette, who goes to Highgate Junior School, decided that this year she would forego her birthday presents and ask friends and family to donate to a cause close to her heart – raising over $1100 for the Restore Coastal Louisiana fund.

In anticipation of her eighth birthday on August 16, Erin had an early party to make sure all her school friends could attend before the summer holidays kicked into gear.

Instead of buying piles of brightly wrapped gifts, guests sent donations to the charity which is repairing the damage caused by various disasters hitting the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, including the BP oil disaster and Hurricane Katrina.

Erin’s father is from New Orleans and she is passionate about teaching her friends about her American heritage.

She said: “We had a quiz about Louisiana. I couldn’t take part because I knew all the answers – I was so excited at the beginning I kept shouting them out and telling everyone, but I calmed down.”

She added that she was not disappointed to receive no birthday presents because she loves animals and wildlife and knows that the money was going to a good cause.

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Erin is no stranger to charity, foregoing last year’s birthday gifts in order to raise �600 in donations for the London Wildcare trust.

Instead of family and friends using the ‘no birthday present’ rule as a way to save some cash, everyone has decided to be ultra generous, digging deep into the pockets to support Erin’s generous effort.

Elizabeth Barrekette, Erin’s mother, said: “It has been amazing – everyone has given a lot more money than they would normally spend on a present and we’ve even had donations from people who didn’t come to the party.

“The project is getting noticed in Louisiana because they are touched not only that Erin has given up her presents but that all these people across London are being so generous and giving money to a cause that far away.”

If you would like to donate to Erin’s charity fund visit: