Sunshine Day rewards young mentees

Daina Amorosano

About 120 children and their chaperones attended Sunshine Day, the annual mini-carnival held in St. Mary’s gymnasium on April 18.

For months, the Sunshine Day committee and the executive board of Rays of Sunshine worked together to plan the event as a reward for the children tutored through the Rays of Sunshine program.

At various arts and crafts tables during the mini-carnival, children could have their faces painted, make colorful drawings, create beaded animal necklaces or paint a flowerpot to be donated to Sterling, a nursing home that Rays of Sunshine members visit.

Highlights of the day included a performance by the Villanova band and visits from the women’s and men’s basketball teams.

The children were also able to explore a Bryn Mawr fire truck and Radnor police car.

Volunteers arrived by 10 a.m. and all the agencies with children in tow arrived by 11:30 a.m. Each child and volunteer received an orange Sunshine Day T-shirt.

In coordinating the jungle safari theme of the event, Sunshine Day volunteers decorated the entire gymnasium with yellow, orange and animal print balloons, a balloon arch and painted scenes of elephants, monkeys, Tarzan and a lion.

Although there were markedly fewer volunteers this year than in previous years, the committee worked to ensure that the success of the event was not compromised, though they had to assign more than one child to some volunteers.

“Because Sunshine Day fell on Candidates’ Weekend, there were fewer volunteers this year, but the quality of the volunteers we had was excellent,” said senior Christina Cometa, who is events co-chair for the committee with sophomore Anna Heleniak. “All were extremely enthusiastic and ready to fill in wherever they were needed.”

When the children played games, they were awarded with tickets that could be redeemed at the prize table, which held many jungle, animal themed prizes and several other large prizes.

“The children loved the jungle themed moon bounce and crawl through maze that were located directly outside of St. Mary’s,” Cometa said.

A light lunch was provided and the children enjoyed the cotton candy machine that was manned by student volunteers throughout the day.

“My personal highlight was seeing how much everyone enjoyed themselves,” Cometa said. “Many of the chaperones came up to me throughout the day and told me how thankful they were for the event and how much fun the children had. After all of the months of planning and the roadblocks we endured, for the day to turn out this well in the end was truly gratifying. We’re always talking to them about Villanova, and it is great to have a chance to show them what Villanova is all about.”