Country Sunshine Residents Head Fundraising Committee to Spread Joy During the Holidays
by Rocio Villalobos
Country Sunshine RV Resort residents Arlene Hirsch and Kathy Anderson always have Christmas on their minds. While cookies and carols are part of the reason why, it’s about more than just the season’s festivities. The friends and Converted Texans who hail from North Dakota and Minnesota, respectively, got involved with the park’s Christmas fundraiser benefiting local students a decade ago and are constantly trying to grow it to help more families.
They help fundraise for the project year-round. When the season arrives, they purchase toiletries, clothing, and grocery gift cards to go to anonymous families from a local elementary school who are in need.
“We find out how old they are, so we buy an age-appropriate gift for the children, and they’re very appreciative,” Anderson said.
One major way they collect money is by creating baskets to raffle off during the park’s events and dances. With so many events to entertain the full-time and seasonal residents, the duo stays busy and is already at work for this year’s distribution.
“We have concerts here at the park, so we sell raffle tickets at the concert, as well as our weekly meetings,” Hirsch said. “Last week, already, we exceeded our goal of what we thought we would raise.”
Hirsch and Anderson are able to create the baskets with items donated by their fellow residents.
“The park jumps in to help. Everybody pitches in,” Anderson said. “We receive gift cards, bottles of booze and wine--lots of booze--they like that. It’s a good seller.”
The mission has even spread outside of the park. Local restaurants donate vouchers to include, and they have had local school faculty visit to help assemble the baskets.
In 2021, they raised enough money to help 22 families--with a total of 77 children--celebrate Christmas with necessities and gifts.
“People within the park get very excited about it,” Hirsch said. “If we manage to do better one year, that’s great. If we don’t, we just continue to work with what we can do. We all enjoy the Valley so much and want to do something to give back to the community.”