As the flowers bloom and the weather warms, hundreds of people will gather in Longmont for a tradition that’s decades old — the Sunshine Tea and Bake Sale.
This year’s annual fundraiser will be held May 10 in celebration of The Sunshine Club’s 120 years of service.
“We were founded in 1902 by five girls who attended Central Elementary — they just got together and decided that they wanted to do good throughout the new Longmont community,” said Sunshine Club member Stephanie Demosthenes.
More than a century later, the club is now Longmont’s oldest continually functioning charitable organization.
“Our teas began sometime in the 1930s, and it is our sole fundraiser,” Demosthenes explained. “In the 1950s we began our dental clinics, and that has been our main focus of our group — most of our funds go to helping St. Vrain Valley District students who have dental needs.”
This year marks another milestone for the club — a record-breaking 1,019 students screened for dental care because of the club’s fundraising efforts, she said.
“We visited 30 schools … we focus on elementary schools and then a few K-8 schools,” Demosthenes explained. “Of those 30, we have identified 118 students that are ‘Sunshine qualified,’ which means that we would cover the full cost of their dental care.”
The 50-member Sunshine Club works with Salud Family Health and several private clinics to provide dentists and hygienists in the schools.
“With so many families right now — especially with this economy — sometimes it’s a matter of putting food on the table or a dental bill, and so a lot of dental needs are just pushed aside,” Demosthenes said.
Families and school health clerks say the club has made a huge difference in children’s lives.
“There was one student last year who actually had an abscess on his gums… he had an urgent dental need, and the health clerk said his whole mood just lifted once that was handled, because it’s very hard for students to focus on reading and writing when they’re in pain.”
While helping provide dental care to students is the group’s main focus, the club also provides dental scholarships for students, and supports the Senior Smiles program at the Longmont Senior Center. The group also helps the Emergency Family Assistance Association’s Atwood Shelter and other community service projects.
This year’s Sunshine Tea and Bake Sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 10 at 353 Grant Street. Attendance is free, but donations are encouraged. Those who wish to support the club through its bake sale will have some friendly competition, Demosthenes said.
“Every single year, we have people waiting for the bake sale to open because we have some famous casserole and soup recipes that are hot tickets — we sell out every single year,” she explained. “And we have cakes, cookies, breads — our members get to work making all kinds of amazing items for the bake sale — it’s very popular.”