Many know the Sunshine Room for its benevolence.

With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Live Oak/McMullen County Child Welfare Inc. President Pat Jarratt felt it was more important than ever to build the communication with local first responders.

“They’re always so busy helping and we never really get a chance to reach out,” said Jarratt. “I thought a luncheon would be a perfect opportunity to show them our appreciation. At the same time, we can show them who we are and what we can do so they can hopefully pass on that information to people who need it.”

Jarratt said recently there was a fire in Lagarto that destroyed four homes and displaced families with children. She said she was only notified two weeks later by the school.

“That’s an emergency and we can help,” said Jarratt. “We can get them the basic supplies that we need the most and make us feel human and help the children with clothing.”

Jarratt, Janice Garcia, and Mary Ann Meeks stayed inside the Sunshine Room giving tours to Live Oak County, McMullen County and Three Rivers first responders.

“We started in a closet of the courthouse and now with the help and support of the community we’ve been able to grow,” said Meeks. “As long as the families qualify, we can provide outfits, underwear, shoes, socks, diapers, toiletries, school supplies — whatever we have. We do this for the kids. They deserve it.”

Meeks and Jarratt explained the Sunshine Room provides supplies to newly fostered children, children on Medicaid, and children involved in emergency situations such as fires, or domestic violence.

Three Rivers School Indepdendent District donated the building for their “store” where they said children come with nothing and are happy to receive a pillow and a toothbrush.

“Before COVID, they were able to come in and try on the clothes,” said Meeks. “You should see their smiles. They leave with a new backpack full of supplies for school and squeezing a pillow tight because now it’s theirs. Now they have something to hug at night.”

Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff was present for the luncheon and said it’s important to communicate with the community what resources are available.

“I think it’s wonderful that this organization and county first responders are working together,” said Judge Huff. “Thanks to our volunteers, we can offer services like this. It’s important that we are aware of what they can offer and learn how we can help the community.”

A group of volunteer firefighters sat together enjoying the meal provided by Valero and Sowell’s BBQ of Three Rivers.

“I think the room is nice,” said Skyler Steinruck, a volunteer firefighter with McMullen County Fire Department. “I didn’t know who they were before today or that this was available to people in our county. We appreciate what they do as much as they appreciate us.”

The Sunshine Room accepts donations, but only new products with tags. Jarratt said the main goal of the room is brighten up children’s lives and improve their self-esteem.

In the winter they can give coats and heaters to families in need and a fan in the summer.

“It’s not a handout,” said Jarratt. “It’s just to help the kids feel good at school and get them what they need. No kid should go without. If their parents are working and doing their best but just need a little help, then we are happy to do that.”

•arivera@mysoutex.com•

 

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