Five-Year-Old Michigan Girl Selflessly Empties Her Piggy Bank for Her Classmates, Moving Her Grandmother to Tears

Last updated: Feb 28, 2024

A grandmother in Michigan helped her five-year-old daughter unleash the simple but powerful feeling of kindness on her classmates unknowingly. She had been attempting to teach the girl about financial discipline and self-control.

While the grandmother thought she was just teaching her granddaughter how to save, when she asked what she was planning to spend the money on, her grandaughter’s response brought her to tears.

Sunshine Oelfke's Powerful Piggy Bank

Five-year-old Sunshine Oelfke was diligently saving her money where she lived in Ishpeming, Michigan. Sunshine was a happy kid who had big dreams.

A piggy bank leaning down over coins.

Source: Andre Taissin/Unsplash

She felt by setting aside her money, she would eventually be able to make a big purchase that even adults would struggle to afford. She kept the cash and coins she saved in a piggy bank. Little did Shinshine know, what she would ultimately do with her piggy bank would warm the hearts of her family and her entire class.


Sunshine's Big Purchase

Sunshine’s grandmother, Jackie Oelfke could not have anticipated what she was going to do with her piggy bank. Oelfke had a look of surprise when Sunshine decided to pour the entire contents of her piggy bank on the living room floor.

sunshine Olefke wearing a pink hat.

Source: Facebook

As she started arranging her savings in an orderly fashion her grandmother was confused. She asked Sunshine why she was pouring out her money now when she had been saving for the snowmobile that she wanted.

A Plan is Revealed

Jackie was correct in understanding that the girl wanted a snowmobile. However, it was so expensive that it was well beyond the young girl’s means. So, her plans had changed. 


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Sunshine had a new target in mind. As she figured out how much money she had saved, the little girl filled her grandma in on the new thing she wanted to do with her allowance.

Grandma's Questions

The concerned grandma initially thought Sunshine was just toying around with her money. The young girl tried her best to tally the cash but had trouble keeping track of the various denominations. So, Jackie and her granddaughter sat down to count the money. 



Sunshine gathered everything, placed it in a plastic bag, and zipped it up. When the young girl put it in her backpack, Jackie had no choice but to ask what she planned to do with it.

Sunshine's Heartfelt Reply

Sunshine shared her plans with her granny – she would take the money she had worked so hard to save and give it to children who needed it more.


The response nearly moved Jackie to tears. Sunshine wanted to use the money she had earned for a snowmobile to buy provisions for her closest friend. It was such a sweet and innocent gesture, and Jackie’s heart swelled with pride.


Proud Grandma

“[Sunshine] said she was taking it to school for milk,” Jackie said in an interview with TODAY, beaming with pleasure and joy at her granddaughter’s behavior. “I explained that I had already paid for her milk for the month,” Jackie continued. That was when Sunshine explained that her friend was the one who needed the milk. 

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Sunshine’s thoughtfulness truly moved Jackie, and she realized that her granddaughter was a remarkable child. Despite having been through a lot because of her mother’s drug-related incarceration, Sunshine was developing into a kind and sympathetic young lady.


Sunshine’s Decision to Help 

This young girl had arrived at the personal judgment that a snowmobile could wait (for the time being). Instead, she decided to use the money she had saved to ensure that one of her closest friends would have access to milk when they were at school. 

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Jackie was utterly taken aback by the love and generosity her grandchild displayed. Sunshine cared more about another’s needs than her own, and this showed a level of maturity most children that age don’t have.


Taking Sunshine to School

Jackie was moved by Sunshine’s generosity. She and her friend both loved milk, but her friend was doing without. So, she wanted to right that perceived wrong and do so with her own money. 

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Jackie went to Sunshine’s teacher and gave her what Sunshine had saved. She explained to the instructor why she had the cash on her. The act of kindness left Rita Hausher, who taught the kindergarten class, close to tears. In fact, as Jackie learned, Rita may have been the source of Sunshine’s motivation.


Sunshine’s Inspiration

Jackie learned that Hausher consistently goes above and beyond to support her younger students. She loves the kids in her class and is dedicated to her role as their teacher. So whenever there is a financial shortfall, she takes money out of her own pocket (as many other teachers do). 

Source: Farmfirstdairycooperative

Rita’s kindness extended to the purchase of milk for several of the youngsters who did not have the financial means to purchase it on their own. Sunshine’s very grown-up level of generosity finally began to make sense.


Milk is Too Expensive for Some Kids in America

The current price of a carton of milk for each student in Sunshine’s class is forty-five cents a day, which comes out to almost nine dollars for the parents of those youngsters each and every month. The situation is similar in other schools. Because of this, many kids miss out on milk in cafeterias across the country. 

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In some cases, such as the one involving Sunshine’s friend, the children’s parents do not have the financial resources necessary to purchase milk. It is one of many unmanageable expenses, so they have to cut it out.


Sunshine Inspired Others with Her Generosity

Hausher spoke to the TODAY show, explaining that she has “always felt sad when I have had to tell a student ‘No’ when they ask if they can have milk.” The compassionate teacher had a great deal of sympathy for Sunshine’s desire to assist her buddy.

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However, our story doesn’t end with Sunshine and her lovely teacher. The young girl had no idea that her kind deed would be the catalyst for something far grander than she could have imagined at the time.


Milk Donations Flowed

Jackie made the decision to inform the entire world of her granddaughter’s behavior. She posted a video to Facebook and shared it with everyone. In it, Jackie talked about the recent events, and she even got a little teary-eyed when talking about what Sunshine had done. 

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Many people who saw her post agreed that kids have a right to adequate nutrition at school. Social media users acted swiftly, sending cash contributions to assist in covering lunch costs and ensuring all pupils have ready access to milk.


Jackie’s GoFundMe Page

Jackie immediately set up a contribution page on a crowdfunding platform, thinking that if she could earn $700, she would be able to ensure all the children in Sunshine’s got milk with their lunches. 

Source: Gofundme

Most people will help when they can – the problem is connecting motivated people with a worthy cause. Jackie was motivated to do this by her grandchild, and she quickly drew in enough money to pay for the kids’ milk expenses for the entire semester. Sunshine’s small act of generosity was blossoming into something magnificent.


Milk for Everyone

An extraordinary event occurred. Thanks to the generosity of a multitude of anonymous donors, Jackie and Sunshine quickly surpassed their $700 goal. With the astonishingly high $6,000 donated in just two weeks, all twenty children would be drinking milk for free until the end of the year.

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They were not only able to provide milk for every student in Sunshine’s class because of the donations, but they were also prepared to sustain the class for quite some time.


Sunshine’s Exciting News

Sunshine observed a difference in the mood around snack time after the contributions were handed to the school. However, this wasn’t the best thing to come out of the story. One day, she returned from school with some inspiring news.

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She informed her grandmother with great joy that it wasn’t just her buddy who now had enough money for milk – the entire class was set for years. All of this had begun with a simple act of benevolence from Sunshine and her teacher.


The Importance of Milk to Sunshine

Jackie is amazed by her grandchild and the massive difference she’s already made in the world. Though Sunshine doesn’t fully grasp the magnitude of what she did, Jackie says she “knows she can do whatever she puts her mind to.” 

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Her grandmother has faith that in the years to come, her granddaughter will reflect on the great things she has done for her friends and classmates. Jackie also knows in her heart that her granddaughter will develop into a remarkable individual over the years to come.


Sunshine’s Family Circumstances

Sunshine’s home life has been fraught with challenges. So the fact that the youngster has developed an empathic disposition toward the plight of others is a testament to the excellent parenting skills of Sunshine’s grandma. 

Source: Pexels

The tragic reality is that Sunshine’s mother is a drug addict who has endured repeated stints in prison; as a result, she has not consistently been there for her daughter throughout her life. Thankfully, Sunshine has had a stable home with her loving grandmother, Jackie.


Jackie’s Concerns for Sunshine

Jackie admitted that this circumstance may not be hurting Sunshine in a direct manner right now, but she is concerned that it may lead to difficulties in the future. Jackie explained, “she’s going to have enough issues growing up with this. I’ve never told her she can’t do something, and I didn’t want to start now.” 

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This proud grandma is overjoyed that Sunshine is a caring child, and she takes great pride in the fact that she gets to help nurture the young girl into adulthood.


Gratitude for Sunshine’s Selflessness

Sunshine’s selfless decision drew widespread admiration within her school community. 

A group of elementary school students with backpacks on are walking towards the entrance of Birchview Elementary School. The school's name is displayed above the main doors

Source: BirchviewWPS/X

Birchview Elementary’s Principal Bernie Anderson commented, “We are all so thrilled for the positivity Sunshine has helped bring to our school.”


A Dream Gift for Sunshine

Prior to her act of kindness, Sunshine had been saving diligently for an Arctic Cat snowmobile, a dream that her community decided to fulfill as a token of appreciation for her generosity. 

A smiling young girl with braided hair is wearing a black Arctic Cat beanie hat. She's dressed in a colorful tie-dye shirt and a black vest

Source: Sunshine Rose Oelfke/Facebook

During a special assembly at her school, Textron Specialized Vehicles surprised Sunshine with the snowmobile she had long wished for. “Sunshine is a snowmobile fanatic,” said her grandmother.


A Unified Celebration for Sunshine

During the schoolwide celebration, the entire community of Birchview Elementary came together to honor Sunshine’s compassionate act. 

Sunshine is sitting on a rustic wooden chair outdoors, wearing a winter hat and an Arctic Cat-branded snowsuit

Source: Jason Asselin/Youtube

It was a moment of collective pride and joy, with students, teachers, and family members gathering to witness Sunshine’s generosity being acknowledged. Principal Anderson’s words, “For Sunshine to see the needs at our school and do something about it, makes us very proud.” echoed through the assembly, highlighting the profound impact of Sunshine’s actions on the school’s ethos.


A Community's Response to Kindness

The surprise gift of the youth Arctic Cat snowmobile to Sunshine was not just a gesture of gratitude but also a reflection of the community’s desire to support and promote acts of kindness. 

A young individual wearing a vibrant pink and blue snowsuit with matching helmet is riding a brightly decorated snowmobile labeled "SUNSHINE". Snow is being kicked up around the snowmobile as it moves forward

Source: Sunshine Rose Oelfke/Facebook

“We were so touched by Sunshine’s generosity that we were eager to do something special for her,” explained Kale Wainer, snow channel marketing manager at Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc.


Prioritizing Others

Sunshine’s love for snowmobiling, shared with her grandmother over 800 miles of rides, underscores her deep connection to the activity. Despite her passion, Sunshine chose to prioritize the needs of her classmates over her own desires. 

An adult woman and a young girl are engaged in a conversation in an outdoor pavilion. The woman, wearing a knitted purple and white hat and a colorful scarf, is looking at the girl with a smile. The girl, wearing a pink pom-pom hat with the Arctic Cat logo and a snowmobile jacket

Source: Jason Asselin/Youtube

“She never touched her Arctic Cat piggy bank prior to this mission,” Oelfke shared, revealing the depth of Sunshine’s dedication to helping others, even at such a young age.


A Warm Gesture for Winter

The generosity displayed by Sunshine and the subsequent recognition of her actions extended beyond the initial act of buying milk and the gift of a snowmobile. 

Two individuals are seen from above, sitting side by side on a pristine blanket of snow. One is wearing a blue jacket and helmet, and the other is clad in an orange and teal jacket, both with snow boots and gloves

Source: Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

Textron Specialized Vehicles also committed to donating snow gear to the school, ensuring that students have access to adequate winter clothing. “I think we can all afford to be more compassionate and fearless,” said Kale Wainer, encapsulating the broader message of Sunshine’s story—a call for everyone to show more compassion and courage in their daily lives.


Sunshine’s ripple effect

It’s encouraging to see that Sunshine’s upbringing hasn’t impeded her progress in any way. At such a young age, she has taken responsibility for her own personal growth. Now during recess, all of her classmates are able to drink milk. This story is the perfect example of how a simple action can snowball into a significant event. All it needs is one individual to get things rolling in the right direction.

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Sunshine’s selflessness is an inspiration to us all. Helping others requires no wealth. Instead, just do as Sunshine did and give within your means.