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By Minda Smiley, Reporter

April 13, 2016 | 3 min read

Massachusetts-based nonprofit Birthday Wishes, an organization that throws birthday parties for homeless children, has released a heartbreaking PSA that reminds viewers just how many kids don’t get the chance to celebrate something that many children take for granted.

In the ad, children are asked to name the titles of popular children's rhymes like 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat.'

But when the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’ begins to play, one little girl shakes her head while another says “I don’t know that one.” The music then cuts out and the message “Too many homeless kids never had a birthday party” appears onscreen.

The PSA, created by Boston-based agency The Fantastical, encourages viewers to donate $10 at birthdaywishes.org.

Michael Ancevic, managing partner and chief creative officer at The Fantastical, told The Drum that the idea for the PSA stemmed from the fact that the 'Happy Birthday' song recently came into the public domain. Previously, the iconic song was owned by music publishing company Warner/Chappell Music and was under copyright protection for many years, until a judge ruled last fall that the publisher did not have a valid claim to it.

While the song is a familar - if even annoying - tune to many, Ancevic said The Fantastical wanted to employ it in a way that would subtly yet powerfully remind viewers that the song might not be as ubiquitous as one might think.

"We wanted something really simple. We thought of this simple but powerful idea of kids identifying very basic songs but not being able to recognize the birthday song. The idea that a child couldn't do that seemed like a very compelling and powerful thought," he said.

Because of laws and protections, the agency was unable to feature actual homeless children in the PSA. Instead, Ancevic said they featured children who they thought would be right for the various roles.

While the spot is meant to raise awarness of Birthday Wishes and encourage donations, Ancevic said that he also hopes it triggers a lightbulb moment in people's minds and makes them realize that there are some children who are denied something as basic as a birthday party.

"Part of the beauty of this is the restraint of it," he said of the PSA. "You see a lot of polished things out in the world, and there's something so raw in this in the way we shot it. It kind of sneaks up on you. You don't need huge production values to make something really powerful."

According to The Fantastical, Birthday Wishes will throw more than 34,000 birthday parties for homeless children this year. There are about 2.5 million homeless children in America, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

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