Happy New Year! We were very hopeful that 2021 would signal the end of the dreaded pandemic. But as we welcome 2022, we realize that it may still take time. We have experienced another surge in cases with the dreaded virus, not just in the Philippines, but globally. As in any challenging scenario, we must strengthen our grip, oil the wheels, face the obstacles and move forward.
A week at a time: Food for the body
Our Sunshine Sundays began in 2020 and carried over to 2021 successfully, as a commitment to bring food on our beneficiaries’ tables. Even with limited resources, but with the help of generous and loyal donors: each week we delivered: 5 kilos of rice and 300 g of milk as our “minimum” donation, for the benefit of 60 families.
A start-up: Food for the Mind
One of the best gifts we received in 2021, was the opportunity to meet and mingle with our beneficiaries online. Having slowly given the know-how to receive lessons thru the internet, our public school students attended our Google Meetings (presently, also Zoom) beginning July. The opportunity was ripe and held so much promise. Attendance grew and familiarity with the digital meetings led to fun learning. Not to be left behind were the mothers who also exerted effort to attend their monthly meetings.
These short but insightful meetings are designed to complement the children’s studies. The volunteers involved are also at a learning curve as we face the problems of poor internet connections, limited gadget capabilities of the students and other “connection-related issues” common in densely populated and poor communities. But no time has been wasted, no effort was overlooked. The smiles, laughter and voices of the children and their mothers have been precious motivators which paved the way to inventiveness and creativity among the talented volunteers. The meetings are all a work in progress, but the potential is quite encouraging.
Monthly (or occasionally) there were additions of fresh vegetables, hot food packs, eggs, canned goods, bread, vitamins, even snacks. Birthday celebrants sent loots bags along with fast food meals which the children enjoyed. Pre-loved books, toys and clothes were distributed and well-appreciated. Periodically, we provided art and school supplies to promote creativity among the children.
Christmas weekends in 2021 had an array of gifts for the 4 weekends of Advent. Grateful to the organizations, groups, offices, families who sponsored their own “60 of anything” to add to our annual drive. We could be “faulted” by giving a bit too much during this season. But I always remember that “Our Lord cannot be outdone in generosity”: so why should we skimp on giving, during the Season when the true Giver of Blessings was born?
Miracles in our midst: Food for the Soul
As I write this, I cannot but feel grateful and blessed. Working in a small but relevant outreach is a rewarding experience, a blessed one. Week after week, the guaranty of getting the donations in place is not there, but why do we always receive what we needed and deliver what we have committed?
I meet the most generous and humble people in this line of work. I am poor in saying my “thank you’s” individually and publicly. It is because I consider ALL donations and donors – each a precious piece of our blessed whole. We feel very special because our donors do not forget Sunshine Club. I would be surprised to receive donations, in cash and in kind, just when I needed them! Our sponsors are both young and old, or groups with a similar advocacy, from here and from abroad: all sharing their treasure for the benefit of our poor.
I have found the best teachers for my weekly meetups: A group of young ladies, volunteer tutors, a talented group of senior high school/college students, seminarians, senior citizens, girls’ club, guest speakers, catechists or just friends and relatives who are able to share their time and energy. How wonderful when I see them prepare special presentations for the Sunshine Kids and Moms.
I am in awe of the commitment of all our faithful donors, some of 15 years and now onward to our 16th year. I am thankful to our new partners and those who support our talented scholars. I am blessed with the dedication of our Sunshine kids and moms and our Sunshine Club team: our Kalayaan Elementary School
teacher, our website and digital artist, the scholars who help in FB and IG, our “video-makers”, packing and distribution staff and teams. Yes, truly grateful to everyone who help deliver: FOOD: in all three aspects: for the body, mind, and soul.
I admire the children, who give their best. They smile each week in gratitude, they write cards and send messages. They dance and sing when requested. They even accept my little scoldings when they in their innocence are simply being “kids”. If there is a true reward working for them, it is simply the sound of their happy voices saying “Tita Nini”. It is also in the vision that, hopefully, the future holds something better for them with our collective efforts.
Many ask me how I have sustained the Club, even in the midst of difficulty. I attribute much to prayer as “nothing is impossible” to Him who is the true
manager of this little endeavor. Each event of sharing with the less privileged coupled by offering a light of hope, present a miracle: we only have to recognize it and enkindle it. From its beginning to its fulfillment and its fruits: each activity comes from above. The work of our hands: together as one: keeps the pieces of the puzzle complete. But who forms us as a beautiful whole is the author of all good. We are indeed, gifted to to give.
SCHOOL YEAR 2021-2022, is the second year of Sunshine Kids Club amidst the Pandemic. With the onset effects of the Pandemic, it became hard for us to complete the group of beneficiaries, since we don’t have the access to the new ones. Recruiting new members seems impossible because of the hindrance of assessing them personally if they are deserving to be included. Mrs. Nini Veloso together with the staff decided to retain the previous members until they are in Grade 7 and recruited 10 new members from Grades 1 to 2. This time the slots intended for new members has now been filled up upon the recommendation of Sunshine Moms and automatic membership was granted for the brothers/sisters of Alumni who are from the past 3 or more years that has shown impeccable loyalty and coordination/collaboration from the program. Now, this is the composition of the Sunshine Kids Club, 10 kids from every Grade Level until Grade 7, except Grades 1 to 2 which is a combination of the members.
We monitor their attendance in the Online and Modular Classes. 44 of them are participating Online Classes, 16 are in the Modular. Modular Classes are monitored by assessing their submission of the modules that should comprise of 6 modules out of the total 7 modules for the Quarter, that is retrieved from them. As of their health status, almost all the members have shown relevant growth in terms of their height and weight, all of which is because of their weekly “AYUDA” given to them as relief subsidy that is comprised of rice, eggs, milk, vegetables, and vitamins. Photos of them prove that they really have grown so well. Performance wise, some of them are academic achievers that shows great potential in their studies. They belong to learners that are with “HONORS”, learners that has an average of 90-94%. To name a few, Patricia Cater, a student of Grade 3, Robert Ladores, a student of Grade 6, belong with them.
Mrs. Nini Veloso is truly doing the best that she can to improve not only the performance of these children in class but also their overall disposition in life and in character. Right now, some of them are having tutorial classes with Volunteer YOUTHS and it is their third Saturday sessions of Reading and Values formation.
Everybody is hoping and praying that this pandemic would end. Everybody is eager to see each other, and of course we surely miss the sponsors who if not for them wouldn’t make this a reality, along with Mrs. Nini Veloso, the overall mother of the Sunshine Kids. We want to see them and bond with them to show them how grateful and happy we are. Let us pray together to face and overcome this “CHALLENGE” of the NEW NORMAL.
Mrs. Sally D. Bolanos
Master Teacher I
Sunshine Kids Club School Coordinator
Kalayaan Elementary School
Sunshine Club was founded by Nini Veloso in 2006. Since then, Nini had diligently worked hard soliciting donations from sponsors, attending to logistics, planning activities and the kid's daily food preparation, managing the club's finances, and updating the club's FB page. Today, after 16 years of commitment and her unfailing devotion to the children and their families, the club has achieved so much more than its original goals. Our assisted scholars are on their way in attaining their degrees, we have taken two more scholars under our wings who are now enrolled in college; we continue to support 60 kids and their families despite schools being shut since the pandemic began in 2020; and there have been hundreds of children who have fed, educated, and nurtured. Surely, a celebration is on order. To our dearest Tita Nini, may you have many more birthdays to come!
Here's a summary of the club's weekly donations for the month.
The kids send their photos and short messages of gratitude.
Nini received a message from Anne via email on 02 March 2022. Following are the contents of the message and her insights sent as attachments.
Dear family and friends,
I hope all is well! I am safely back in California and my time in the Philippines was a sweet blessing! Just wanted to share the highlight of my trip with you! I am sending this to you as you have all played a part in The Sunshine Club either in the past or currently. Hope you enjoy the update!
As we welcome the joyful season of Easter, we would like to share some of our precious moments during the past Easter weekend.
Sharing our blessings with Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish Community
Most of our families belong to Our Lady of the of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Pasay City, where the beautiful chapel is located right across the school premises. The Parish on occasions organize a Community Pantry for their church- goers. The organizers, particularly the good sisters who are in-charge of the outreach,
approach Sunshine Club for help.
This Easter Sunday, we were happy to donate rice and eggs.
Franklin Bolanos, Jr., the youngest son of our Sunshine teacher, Sally, recently was installed as an altar server for
our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish. We are very happy to see him as an active participant of their Parish.
We have several Sunshine alumnae who are also helping with the Parish/Church activities. Some are active in their Parish's digital team, are altar servers and members of the choir.
With the prayers, guidance and dedication of our Sunshine Club Mothers Team, DHEL MATEO and GINALYN TULANG, 2 mothers of our Sunshine Kids, were baptized during the Easter Vigil Celebration in the Parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. This is a first in our work with the Mothers in helping them thru Christian Doctrine and values formation.
The Team comprising of Emily Gomez, Nati Salinas, Sanne Averia, Rae Guinto, Alou de Asis and ably assisted by Sally Sangumay, meet with the mothers of the Sunshine Kids monthly now online. Catechism classes and the lessons on the Sacraments. have led 2 mothers to ask for assistance for their Baptism into the Catholic Church.
There are also several couples who are being guided to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony. The team is working very hard and they have one-on-one mentoring as well to help the mothers. The positive response of the Sunshine Moms are true blessings! Our prayer is to impact positive values in the families we care for, and forming the mothers are akey toward this goal.