by Mike Pfieffer, 5th grade teacher
It’s that time of the year again and Sunshine Cottage is gearing up for one of its longest standing traditions, a tradition which dates back over half a century. In 1955 the Cottage began selling Christmas cards as its single largest PTG fundraiser. Our group of students took pen and paper in hand, or more likely crayon and paper, and began designing the very first Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children Christmas Card.
The program has changed and grown over the years but the central theme has always remained the same “Cards created by the kids for the kids,” with all proceeds going to benefit the students of Sunshine Cottage. Monies raised throughout the years have been used to pay for field trips, loaner equipment, educational grants, classroom supplies, and guest speakers to help educate parents and families on what it means to raise a deaf child. These are just a few ways the money has been used.
Some may question why the tradition continues, but when you see the gleam in the eye of the child struggling to talk about the pumpkin patch, or the zoo, or the Witte or any of the other hundreds of field trips we take the kids on and you know they truly have something to say and want to learn how to say it, you can begin to understand the value of this simple tradition. What better way to generate that desire to learn then to give them something to talk about?
Over the years I have seen our PTG hand over five thousand dollars given to the library to stock the shelves of the new school, nine thousand handed over to the departments to fund projects not covered by the annual budget but that teachers felt were important for the education of our students, and many other contributions such as this. We have sponsored families to attend the Texas chapter of AG Bell biannual conventions and to attend the national AG Bell convention. We’ve had guest speakers talk about how to handle stress, Halloween safety, devices that help the deaf in everyday life to include fire alarms, amplified phones, messaging services and how to obtain these devices and services free in the state of Texas. We’ve sent gift cards and baskets for families struggling through the loss of loved ones, cards and gifts to aid when someone is injured or in the hospital and needs just a little help to care for their family. I could continue to list the ways we have helped and grown over the years due, in part, to this one Sunshine Cottage fundraising tradition, a tradition that lives on and touches each and every family at Sunshine in some way.
For the past 14 years I have had the pleasure to look at and help select the winning artwork. I have met every student whose art work was picked and I have listened to them and experienced the joy and pride they have for the work they have done.
It may have started as a small fundraiser 58 years ago, but it has grown to become a part of Sunshine Cottage life that we depend on – a part of us that our ever-growing community of families, corporations, and Sunshine supporters eagerly anticipate every year; and a part of us that continues to fill a need in the school and enrich the lives of the families and children who are a part of Sunshine Cottage.