Every story matters.
If clothes, favorite blankets, and stuffed animals could talk, they’d tell of the resilience of children who’ve endured so much in their young lives.
Tubs tell a story.
A pair of yellow Minion pajamas.
That’s all a 3-year-old girl arrived with when she came to the Sunlight Children’s Home this past summer. No shoes. No socks. And scared.
Removed from her home in the middle of the night, she had limited time to gather any of her belongings. She just needed to be out, somewhere safe where she could no longer feel the effects of child abuse and neglect.
The only thing she could claim from the first three years of her life was a pair of yellow Minion pajamas based on the movie “Despicable Me.”
Staff at the Children’s Home washed the pajamas and put them in a plastic tub for safekeeping.
Every tub in the intake room at the Children’s Home tells a story. If only the clothes could talk and let us in on what these resilient children have endured in their short life.
Organized on metal shelving, the tubs often are noticeably sparse.
Many of us move through life with more belongings stuffed in our purses and computer bags than the children we serve have had their entire lives.
A 16-year-old girl came to us one winter wearing a spaghetti-strap tank top, shorts and flip-flops.
Snow covered the ground. That night was the first night she was going to sleep in a bed and have enough blankets and pillows to keep her warm and comfortable. She was going to be sleeping with heat in her temporary home, something she was not able to have where she came from.
When children arrive at our home, staff wash and dry their clothes and give them something clean to wear. Every child we serve at the Children’s Home leaves with a bag filled with what they arrived with as well as a blanket, a hygiene kit, additional clothing and toys, depending on age.
The duffle bags are practical, yes, but they also convey important messages:
- You matter.
- You are loved.
- You deserve the basic necessities of life.
- All children deserve these things.
Some children are lucky enough to arrive with shoes or something sentimental that provides a sense of comfort. Some are lucky enough to be clean enough to not require an immediate shower.
Some children are unlucky enough to arrive only in diapers with a blanket wrapped around them, with an immediate attention to their hygiene. Staff are quick to treat the lice or bugs they bring with them. It is about dignity and respect for the children to have them looking and feeling their absolute best when they are in our home.
When siblings arrive together, we store their belongings in the same tub.
We can’t divulge much about the children we serve for obvious reasons. Our mission is to protect them, including their privacy.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the story of Sunlight without the ability to tell the stories of the children we serve.
But the tubs — labeled with a number, not a name — every single one of them tells a story.
We can’t let you meet the children we serve. But we can share the feeling that these children made us feel. The feelings that go home with us at night. The feelings of what it means to be an advocate for children that have gone through more in their lives than we might ever think was possible. We know that when we come to work, our hearts are going to break, but because these children need us during their most difficult time in their lives, we continue to pick up those pieces, put them back together, and focus on what is important. The children.
As we begin to move on from one of the most difficult years in our organization’s history, we ask that you join us in our efforts of keeping these children safe and protected. Join us in making sure these children’s voices are heard and their needs met. We cannot fulfill this mission without your support.
In Their Own Words
A safe, loving environment.
One child writing a letter of gratitude to Sunlight, pens, “This house has luxuries I didn’t and don’t deserve.”
Can you imagine? Can you imagine that a child who’s been abused actually feels like they don’t deserve to be in a safe, loving environment? While our children’s home is comfortable, it is by no means luxurious, but that is exactly how it feels for some children who’ve never known what it’s like to be warm, fed and safe.
Learn how the Children’s Home welcomes children and helps them in real, tangible ways.