It’s hard to know what goes through the mind of a five-year-old, particularly one who watches her mom go in and out of jail due to drug addiction. But little Sunshine Oelfke is obviously being raised right by her grandmother because the other morning, the five-year-old came into the kitchen before leaving for kindergarten with a baggie full of coins from her piggy bank.
“I asked her what she was doing with a baggie of money,” wrote Jackie Oelfke on Facebook, “and her response put me in tears. ‘I’m going to give it to my friend at school because she don’t get milk for snack. Her mom don’t have any milk money and I do.’”
So a bursting-with-pride grandmother and Sunshine took about $30 to the Birchview Elementary School, high on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the tiny town of Ishpeming, and the teacher, Rita Hausher, came down with a sudden attack of goosebumps. “I always tell my students when they say something that really amazes me I get ‘kindergarten goosebumps,’” she explained, “and I got them from my toes to the top of my head.”
Mrs. Hauser better get used to it. Thus inspired, the Oelfke girls wondered how many children in the kindergarten class didn’t have money for milk. It costs about $8 a day for the whole class. So they set up a “milk fund money” site on GoFundMe in hopes that other people may help with enough money for the entire fall semester. Within the first week they got over $600 in donations for “the little girl with the big, beautiful heart.” (As of yesterday at noon the story ‘had gotten legs’ and there was about $4,300 that had been given.)
“Sunshine knows that some kids don’t want it, and that some can’t have it, but she wants them to have the option, just in case,” said Jackie. “She doesn’t understand what the big deal is, the impact she’s made, but now she knows she can do anything she sets her mind to.”
School principal Bernie Anderson told a Michigan TV station, “We talk about rules and to do what’s right, to treat others like you want to be treated. This all kind of falls in line and it’s a great example that when you teach it and emphasize it, the children pick up on it. They understand there is a need and they understand the value of helping. This has been a wonderful lesson for all of us.”
For a five-year-old to give all that she had saved to one day buy an Arctic Cat snowmobile is pretty amazing, considering how long she had been saving. “I’ll get more money,” Sunshine said with confidence, her allowance for doing chores and searching for dropped coins in parking lots won’t change.
About 10 days after Sunshine took her money to school, she burst into the house and screamed, “Guess what! The whole class got milk today! Layla has her milk money! We’ve got enough for all year!”
I’m thinking some other children at Birchview Elementary who can’t come up with 45 cents for a carton can get in on the act because people like me around the country have already sent a cash donation – with a warm thank-you note to …
Miss Sunshine Oelfke
c/o Rita Hauser’s Kindergarten
BIRCHVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
663 Poplar Street
Ishpeming, Michigan 49849