’Milk Mission’ accomplished
Area kindergartner surprised with Arctic Cat for good deed
ISHPEMING — In early October, Jackie Oelfke watched her granddaughter, Sunshine, a kindergartner at Birchview Elementary School, take the money out her “Arctic Cat piggy bank” and dump it on the living room floor of their home.
Sunshine, an avid snowmobiler, was saving money to buy her own Arctic Cat.
That’s a lot of nickels.
At first she thought the 5-year-old was working on what she learned at school.
“She’s learning about counting and reading and stuff, so I thought that’s what she was doing,” Oelfke said.
Then she put the money into baggies that went into her backpack. The reason? Milk money.
Sunshine’s milk already had been paid for, but her friend wasn’t so fortunate. Other kids at school didn’t have milk either.
A GoFundMe campaign subsequently raised $13,426 out of a $5,000 goal for Birchview kindergartners and pre-K, or Young 5, youngsters to get milk for the rest of the 2017-18 school year.
That probably would have been reward enough for Sunshine, but a Wednesday assembly turned into an extravaganza.
Birchview Principal Bernie Anderson talked to the youngsters about Sunshine’s good deed.
“She had a classmate that didn’t have something she had, and she wanted to help that person, so she did a great job of helping somebody, helping others,” Anderson said.
Jackie Oelfke also provided a little background into the story.
“One rule we have in our house is we need to save our money,” she said.
So, the fact that Sunshine took out money she was saving for prized possession surprised her.
“We don’t play with this money,” Jackie Oelfke said. “It’s not play money, is it?”
However, the students learned that for three weeks straight, Sunshine brought a baggie of money to school to help her friends get milk.
“Sunshine’s Milk Mission” went viral, with people from throughout the community and even the world donating money.
“That’s what Sunshine’s mission has been about: is helping friends and always being kind,” she said.
Manny Sparks, a district salesman with Arctic Cat, said he was in Milwaukee when he learned about Sunshine’s effort and watched a video about it.
“How awesome was that?” he thought at the time.
The company Wednesday had a surprise for Sunshine, which was unveiled at the assembly: an Arctic Cat worth about $2,800.
“We were really excited that we have a great little ambassador, and getting kids on the snowmobile right now is very important,” Sparks said.
A huge cheer went up from the grade schoolers when Sunshine’s new snow machine was shown to her.
It was a surprise for her too — and apparently a joyous one, with the girl repeatedly jumping up and down after the big reveal.
“It’s just making me so excited,” Sunshine said.
Lots of people got involved in the assembly, with Jilbert Dairy donating 250 gallons of milk to be given throughout the community. Also, Arctic Cat passed out winter hats for every kid at the assembly, most of whom put them on immediately.
Sunshine too received special apparel: a snowmobile outfit complete with safety helmet.
However, it was the Arctic Cat that really kept her interest, prompting her to ask the purpose of a particular button.
It was to stop the machine.
“When I’m going too fast?” the girl asked.
Sunshine said she planned to try out her new machine in her backyard, although she pointed out more gasoline might have to be put into it.
According to the mission’s GoFundMe page, 572 people raised the $13,420 in just one month.
The donors to the cause certainly appreciate what Sunshine has done, judging from the GoFundMe comments:
– “She’s inspired hundreds of people who will likely think about this each new school year.”
– “Sunshine is an excellent name for you…your kindness is an inspiration.”
– “Sunshine, thank you for following your heart. And thanks to the adults in Sunshine’s life who helped her in taking her vision to another level!”
– “This little girl and all children like her will be the change this world needs.”
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.