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... Issued April 3, 2017

The Sunshine Group of Erie was formed to bring a little sunshine into the lives of Erie residents, including those participating in the HACE Family Self-Sufficiency programs.

HACE  employees, Sabrina Tolbert and Lynette Burkhart, from left, and Patreece Johnson, far right, honor four of the workers who gave "sunshine" and gifts to Family Self-Sufficieny participants.

That group has been working with the HACE Family Self-Sufficiency Programs to provide baskets filled with age-appropriate toys and games for every child whose parent is a FSS participant.

These baskets will soon be distributed  in April.  Participants will be notified as to the date and time to come pick up their baskets and to have a chance to meet Sunshine Group members in person. 

"We had approximately 360 baskets made for our participants and their children," said Sabrina Tolbert, HACE Public Housing FSS Case Manager.  "Thanks to volunteer Susan Serafini who packaged each basket by hand, and to student helper Dalanie Coughlin, who assisted her and helped put together the baskets for the teens.  It was a huge task, but they all came together as a team to get it accomplished on time!"

The Housing Authority of the City of Erie showed its appreciation to all the Sunshine Group hard workers by providing prepared lunches.  Due to a winter snowstorm, many of the volunteers were not able to attend, but all the leftovers were packaged and ready to be shared the next day with those who could not be there.

The Sunshine Group of Erie is a  group of women and men who provide gifts for Erie residents to brighten their days. The group is asked by local agencies to provide gifts to their clients.

Each request becomes a project for The Sunshine Group. Its members work on projects year-round, striving to complete each project by Christmas, although other events and holidays are included.

"Our Sunshine Gift boxes contain needed items as well as items that just bring cheer to people," a spokesperson for the group says.  "Our gifts are made by refurbishing, re-crafting and/or redistributing donated items and supplies."

Those gifted by the group range from nursing homes to after-school youth programs.

Using common household items, donations and a wide array of skills, they put together baskets made from Kleenex boxes and fill them with toys, books, notebooks, stuffed animals – and more.

"Thank you for your dedication and work," says Daniel J. Roessner, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Erie.