Enochs High School sophomore Cambry Hastings knew she would wear a crown and a big dress to her sweet 16. She also knew the party would be about dancing with friends and having fun.
Asking her guests to bring donations in lieu of gifts for a charity that had touched her heart was a given.
"My mom works with the organization Camp Taylor, which gives children with heart disease a chance to go to camp," Hastings said. "I volunteer with their fund-raiser dinners and had the chance to go help with one of the camps last summer. Camp Taylor is an organization that pays for kids with heart disease to go to week-long day camps where youngsters get to swim, do crafts and learn about their heart conditions.
"The guests' donations totaled up to be $432, which I chose to put towards arts and crafts for the kids at camp."
Last summer's camp and campers inspired Hastings to turn her party into a benefit.
"I fell in love with Camp Taylor as soon as I started working with it," Hastings said. "It's a lot of respectful, nice kids who don't have any worries while they are there just excitement from meeting other people like them. They say that Camp Taylor is their family because nobody else knows what they're going through. ... I realized that I have everything I want and could help them with what they need."
Hastings has volunteered in the community since she was young.
"I love to volunteer and help my community as much as I can. Helping out with something that has an impact is an awesome experience. I'm a Girl Scout, so I volunteer with a lot of programs in Modesto through that. I'm also volunteering at a fund-raiser to save the Empire pool and am a member of the Sylvan Improvement Club."
Guests at the party welcomed Hastings' act of kindness.
"I met Cambry through Girl Scouts," said Ella Grover, a sophomore at Beyer High School. "It was really humbling because she was having a giant bash and instead of receiving a bunch of presents like she could have, she decided to raise money and donate it. She's a super-sweet girl who always thinks of others. This didn't surprise me at all."
Hastings looks back at the event with conviction.
"The bond I make with those amazing kids at camp, those warriors, I carry with me always," she said. "My mom and I are blessed to be a part of the Camp Taylor family. My experience is one that I will never forget."
Lexy Brown is a junior at Enochs High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom Program.