Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, just outside Mesa, Arizona, provides a home for children who are separated from their parents. With the goal of providing the emotional, social, physical, educational support needed to prepare the children for successful adult lives, the staff at Sunshine Acres offers more than just a place for kids to stay. They’re a family. They are home.
And just like with most large families, when the holidays roll around, along with a tremendous amount of joy and laughter, food and fun, there is also a great deal of decorating to be done. Eager to lend a helping hand and spread some holiday cheer, area Santander Consumer (SC) associates took time away from the office to decorate and hang lights around the Sunshine Acres facility.
SC Senior Specialist Florence Williams said the event was just as much fun for her as it was for the residents of Sunshine Acres. “First, I love the holidays and putting up Christmas lights gets me happy that the holidays are approaching,” said Williams. “Secondly, knowing that we were going to be helping children, I became even more excited.”
Williams continued, expressing that helping children in need is what the holidays are all about. “To me, volunteering for children is very important. I enjoy giving back to the community. Thank you for the opportunity to put in my small contribution.”
Sunshine Acres opened in 1954, when Jim and Vera Dingman purchased 125 acres of land in the Arizona desert. There were only a few run-down buildings at the time, but they found their way to open the doors for children in need and since then, Sunshine Acres has helped more than 2,000 children.
Today, the facility admits children anywhere between the ages of 5 and 15 who have been separated from their family, and they can handle up to 70 children at once. The children live on the Sunshine Acres campus in homes that house 10 children each. Each child is required to stay at least one year, but all can stay longer if their family situation does not substantially change in a way that would allow them to return.
While there, the kids can participate in a variety of programs, including a Transitional Living Program, which allows them to remain as part of the Sunshine Acres program beyond their 18th birthday. Participants of the program can opt to attend either a community college or university, vocational (trade) school or join the military. In addition, the program teaches general life skills and financial training.