How One Kindergartener Raised $10,000 for Her Classmates’ Daily Milk

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Suzanne Tucker / Dennis Cox / Photo Illustration by Kitchn)

When 5-year-old Sunshine Oelfke realized her friend didn’t have milk money for snack time at school, of her own accord she broke open her piggy bank. That was two weeks ago. Since then, the kindergartener has raised thousands online to pay for milk for her entire class at Birchview Elementary School in Ishpeming, Michigan.

Sunshine’s grandmother, Jackie, told CBS that one night she watched the little girl empty every nickel and dime from the savings she had set aside for a snowmobile. At first Jackie thought Sunshine was playing, but then quickly realized she was counting and stashing it away into a sandwich bag.

When asked what she was doing, Sunshine said: “I’m taking it for my friend Layla. She doesn’t get milk. Her mom doesn’t have milk money and I do.” The next day, Jackie and Sunshine met with her teacher, Rita Hausher, to donate the $30 Sunshine had been stowing away in her piggy bank.

(Image credit: Jackie Sue Oelfke)

That’s when Jackie learned there are 20 children in Sunshine’s kindergarten class, half of whom do not get milk at snack time. Daily milk costs 45 cents, which racks up to about $180 per month for every child to have milk each day. “What do I do?” she asked Hausher. “I can’t afford to give everyone in the class milk money.”

So the trio came up with a donation fund, which Jackie explained in a recent Facebook video.

Shockingly, dozens — and now upwards of 10,000 — people watched, shared, and commented on the post, offering to donate to the cause. This prompted Jackie to start a GoFundMe page to raise enough money to cover milk for everyone during the entire semester.

In the first week alone, Sunshine raised $1,000. Now, less than two weeks later, she has raised nearly $10,000 — well surpassing the original $5,000 goal. Now every student will have the opportunity to drink milk every day for the rest of the year — and beyond.

“She doesn’t understand the impact she’s made,” Jackie told CBS. “But now she knows she can do whatever she puts her mind to.”

Read more and give (if you like) to Sunshine’s milk fund: Sunshine’s Class Milk Money Mission at GoFundMe