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After friends bail, Columbia strangers attend 12-year-old's birthday party instead

A post on Facebook welcomed more than 40 children and their families into a strangers home for a birthday party.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Saturday, a Columbia boy celebrated a birthday with complete strangers. 

Twelve-year-old Jamel Nichols invited all of his school friends to his birthday party but sadly none could attend. 

"Unfortunately Jamel's friends at school just bailed on him at the last moment. We were going from house to house and I was speaking with parents, and unfortunately, no one was able to attend," Jamel's mother, Zenas Jett, said. "So I just thought that I'd reach out to the community, so I made the post on Facebook."

The response the family received was overwhelming. With almost 100 comments, reactions, and messages, they were able to invite complete strangers to the slime-themed birthday.

"I made a lot of friends I didn't know, it was really fun," Jamel said. 

However, all of the presents weren't only for Jamel. Ashley Berendzen said her family received a gift as well.

"Our children don't have a whole lot of friends or peers their age. I have a son that has autism and his social skills are a little bit awkward sometimes," Berendzen said. "I also have another son that is two and he is a COVID baby so his social skills aren't that great. Everyone at this party was so friendly and warm and inviting, and a lot of them are from similar situations."

Now, as Jamel enters his twelfth year, he has a new village behind him which he says is the greatest birthday present he could have gotten.

"Thank you and thank you for supporting me, and for coming out. You could have been somewhere else, you could have been doing what you wanted to do but instead, you came to my party, so thank you," Jamel said.

The parents and kids who attended the party exchanged phone numbers and plan to meet up again.

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