"They surprised me with this. This is wonderful," Johnson said through sobs. "I feel more happy than he is."
Christopher, wearing a silver party hat with multicolored polka dots and blue fringe, grinned and clapped as the group sang "Happy Birthday." His mother had to blow out the candle for him, but he happily stuck his fingers into his piece of cake and icing and began eating it.
Christopher then gleefully tore into his present, a musical green caterpillar that teaches children the alphabet. He smiled as relatives took pictures.
Becky Wach, director of operations for the Salvation Army's Fort Worth chapter, said employees realized the importance of a baby's first birthday and also wanted the family to feel a sense of normalcy during a stressful time.
"Our mission is always to reach out to those who need us the most," Wach said. "We wanted to try to make it feel like home as much as we could."
They found out that Johnson had already planned a party at her local Chuck E. Cheese in the theme of "Cars," the film by Walt Disney's unit Pixar. They replicated everything except the trip to the restaurant, Wach said.
She said workers used their own money and that no donations were used.
"We wanted to do this as a special treat," Wach said.
Johnson said she plans to return to New Orleans soon, but because her home was damaged in Katrina three years ago, she has considered moving to Texas to be close to relatives and away from hurricanes.
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