Spotlight on Service: Sunshine Cards for Homeless Children

This Spotlight on Service comes to us from the capital of California, Sacramento. A group of kind, caring preschoolers at Ti Amore Children’s Center learned about the struggles of homeless children in their community and took some time to make them Sunshine cards…because everyone needs a smile!

Kelli Pleyvak is asking Jason Dilloway to share an example of the Sunshine Cards that the students will be making for The Mustard Seed School. 

Kelli Pleyvak is asking Jason Dilloway to share an example of the Sunshine Cards that the students will be making for The Mustard Seed School. 

Lindsay Dilloway, a parent at Ti Amore Children’s Center, worked with the center owner, Krisann Vistica, to involve the students in a community service project. Kelli Plevyak, a board member for Little Hands Can, started brainstorming ideas with them and a wonderful non-profit called The Mustard Seed School was selected. One of the goals of the community service project was to select something that the students could really connect with as well as participate eagerly in. We felt that all the students could easily relate to children their age and understand the significance of a home and a warm bed to sleep in. The Mustard Seed School and their fantastic work was a perfect selection. As taken from their website;

Mustard Seed is a free, private school for children 3-15 years old which provides a safe, nurturing and structured environment, a positive learning experience, happy memories, survival resources of food, clothing and shelter referrals, medical and dental screenings, immunization updates, counseling for children and their parents, and assistance entering or reentering public schools.

Mustard Seed School was established in 1989 to help meet the needs of homeless children. Many school age children do not attend school because of their homelessness; some lack immunizations, birth certificates, or other documents, some are in transit, and almost all lack a support system. In spite of their situations these children are eager to learn and to be accepted.

From fifteen to thirty-five children may attend our school each day, and an average stay is just three to four weeks. Some children have been out of school for a long time and need help to go back. A major goal of the Program is to prepare and enroll homeless children into public schools, and preschool for younger children, when families have found housing stability. Since the school began, over 4500 individual children have participated in Mustard Seed (http://sacloaves.org/programs/mustardseedschool).

We began our discussion with four simple pictures. These pictures represented some of our basic necessities in life; a home, clothes, food and a bed. All the children eagerly participated in the conversation and even shared details of their home-life. We then introduced the idea that not all children have a home, food to eat, clothes to wear or a bed to sleep in. The children quickly hushed and started looking at each other. We could tell that they were processing this unexpected information. We then asked them how it feels to learn that some children don’t have the basic needs in life. They said that they, “…feel sad for those kids,” and this sentiment was evident on their faces. When asked if the students would like to do something to help those less fortunate children, there was an enthusiastic cheer of, “Yes!” 

Kelli Plevyak is talking to the students about basic necessities such as a home, food, clothing and a bed to sleep in. 

Kelli Plevyak is talking to the students about basic necessities such as a home, food, clothing and a bed to sleep in. 

We showed the students the materials that we had prepped for the Sunshine Card project. The students were eager to paste on their happy-face suns and color the inside of the cards. 

Jason Dilloway shared the Sunshine Card that he had created a few days prior (he was gracious enough to be our "guinea pig" to test out our service project idea!)

Jason Dilloway shared the Sunshine Card that he had created a few days prior (he was gracious enough to be our "guinea pig" to test out our service project idea!)

The students created close to 40 Sunshine Cards!

Ti Amore students working on their Sunshine Card community service project. 

Ti Amore students working on their Sunshine Card community service project. 

All the cards had an uplifting saying inside them. 

All the cards had an uplifting saying inside them. 

We hope that the children of The Mustard Seed School feel loved once they receive their cards!

We hope that the children of The Mustard Seed School feel loved once they receive their cards!

The students also got their parents involved by hosting a paper goods drive at their Ti Amore center. These much-needed paper goods will gathered during the months of November and December and will be delivered to The Mustard Seed School right before the Christmas holidays. 

If are inspired by these little community service superstars, we hope that you make your own Sunshine Cards and make someone in your community smile!