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Community Champions: Pockets Full of Sunshine

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*(WTOC)
Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - There was work to be done at the Hilton Head Rec Center.

“We’re doing Halloween bags. And putting the candy in the Halloween bags,” Pockets Full of Sunshine participant Jeremy said.

Which meant there was an opportunity for the Rays to enjoy doing that work together again.

“I’m just so glad to be back here,” Pockets Full of Sunshine participant Scott said. Pockets Full of Sunshine has gotten back to limited group activities for their adults with disabilities - smaller gatherings and distancing part of what they now do. But while they have had to change, the organization never left the community they serve.

“We have not stopped at all. We’ve always at least been providing activities for them at home because we know this was really necessary for our families, for all of us. we all want to feel connected at this time, but especially our adults,” Pockets Full of Sunshine co-founder Laurin Rivers said.

“When the world shut down, a lot of our population was lonely and had nothing to do. So, mental health and wellness is something that’s very big and very important, especially in our community,” Pockets Full of Sunshine co-founder Dayna Dehlinger said. And while many non-profits struggled with the shutdown, Pockets flourished adding new activities, services, even new Rays.

“It’s my first time with these people. It’s fun though, I love these guys. It’s pretty cool though and we get along so well, we help each other out,” participant Joe said.

“We did a pen pal project. We’ve done a couple of different t-shirt projects since we do screen printing with our adults, where they can work on packaging and work on things from home. During the pandemic, we debuted our first t-shirt that we created ourselves and our adults put into production and did the printing on.”

And once everyone was comfortable going back out, the Rays sold their now-signature shirts at markets across the Lowcountry, earning more than profit from the experience.

“They love that. The best part for them is always the social interaction. And there’s pride on their faces if they see someone wearing their shirt.”

More recently, these WTOC Community Champions expanded in-person activities, like the one at the rec center. And the Rays aren’t the only ones feeling more complete because of it.

“We are so grateful to have them back in the building. It’s great to see all their smiling faces coming in. We sure have missed them coming in,” Island Rec Center Adaptive Recreation Director Allie Rogers said.

“It has been great to get back. There is just a happiness in the air, a buzz in the air that everyone just feels so good to together.”

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