‘We do this for the children’: Sunshine Ladies take kids clothes shopping for school
By KIPP ROBERTSON
North Kitsap Herald Education/Sports Reporter
August 31, 2012 · Updated 9:13 AM
SILVERDALE — On the second floor of JCPenney, in the children’s section, six young students excitedly perused potential back-to-school clothes. The students’ parents or guardians stood close by, watching as the young ones prepared for a new school year in the North Kitsap School District. Some were returning students, some entering kindergarten.
Natalie, 5, was getting ready for her first day at Wolfle Elementary. Holding up a new skirt, she said she’s excited to join her older brother at the school.
Natalie picked her outfit, with her mother and “grandmother” from the Sunshine Ladies of the Redeemer United Methodist Church in Kingston. The soon-to-be kindergartener began with shoes and worked to build her new school wardrobes.
“This is my skirt,” Natalie said proudly. Is she excited to go to school? “Mmmm hmmm.”
The six students shopped Tuesday in Silverdale, selected by the Sunshine Ladies of the church as part of the group’s annual back-to-school shopping benefit. Each student received a $100 spending limit. The money was raised during the Redeemer Sunshine Ladies Rummage Sale July 20-21.
The benefit began four years ago when the Sunshine Ladies sought another avenue to give back to the community, said Sunshine Lady Pat Menge as she stood in the JCPenney children’s department. The ladies first went through ShareNet, then the Kingston Food Bank. Now they work with just the school district.
This year’s back-to-school shopping beneficiaries were all from Wolfle Elementary School.
“We do this strictly for the children,” Menge said.
Menge knows well what families go through economically. Growing up, she said her parents never had a way to get help with paying bills or buying groceries. The first year the Sunshine Ladies took students clothes shopping she cried for half the night, because of what is now possible.
The look on the children’s faces makes it all worthwhile, she said.
As Menge talked, one of the boys walked by, carrying four pairs of jeans. He was preparing to pick out a few shirts as well.
Each student and family had a different story.
One family recently had its power shut off because of missed payments. In another family, a parent walked out, taking almost everything.
The six young shoppers represent a small percentage of the need in the school district. The Sunshine Ladies had to significantly narrow their selections down from a list of 30 or more with similar financial difficulties, Menge said.
According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website, 33.5 percent (2,237 students) of North Kitsap School District students were enrolled in free or reduced meals during the 2010-11 school year. At Wolfle, a Title 1 school, 53.4 percent (191 students) received free or reduced meals the same year. Wolfle has the most students receiving those meals, percentagewise.
Margaret Stasny of Silverdale is a Sunshine Lady and attends the Kingston church. She said she volunteers simply because she can.
Stasny has attended the church for about 11 years. She helps with the Christmas Bazaar and rummage sale. Doing something for the students is another thing she likes to add to her list.
“My husband says I do too much,” she said in the girls’ department of the store. “But it makes me feel good to help others.”
Contact North Kitsap Herald Education/Sports Reporter Kipp Robertson at email@example.com or (360) 779-4464.