Story – The Sunshine Basket

Jennie Grant lay on a cot near the window. She had been lying in that same place for many weeks. One of her legs was shorter than the other, and the doctor had fastened a heavy weight to it in order to make it grow. But she must be still all the time.

Every morning before her father went to work, he moved her cot close to the window so she could look out. There was not much to see, for the buildings were high. But she loved to watch the swallows against the sky, and there was a flock of doves that often alighted on the roof across the way. Still she became very tired with nothing to do and no one to play with.

One day Mrs. Brightly came to see if she could help her. On the way home, she was busy thinking about Jennie. Suddenly she said to herself, “I know what I’ll do. There are my two little sisters who have plenty of money and hardly ever think of anyone but themselves, and there are some other little neighbors. We will have a little ‘Sunshine Band,’ and make her happy, and the children will enjoy doing something for someone who needs help. They will find that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

She wrote notes to the girls, asking them to come to her house Monday afternoon. Then she told them the plan. They decided to fill a pretty basket to stand by Jennie’s bed, and take it to her on her birthday. Everything was to be put in packages, so her pleasure would last a long time, and everything was to be something for Jennie to do. Week after week they met and worked on the articles for the basket. They enjoyed it so much that they could hardly wait for Jennie’s birthday to come.

In the basket was a little jointed doll, and in the box with her were bits of bright silk and muslin, a little needlebook, thread, needles, and scissors, so that Jennie could make doll’s clothes. In another package were a box of paints and a book of pictures to color. They knew that Jennie would like to do something for someone else, so they made some little books of cotton fabric, and all the girls brought pictures for Jennie to cut out and paste in the books. When the books were made, they were to be sent to the hospital for sick children. One girl brought some sheets of paper dolls for her to cut out. Another brought a puzzle to be put together. They wrote a note to go with each package.

One bright morning when Jennie opened her eyes, she remembered it was her birthday. The first thing she saw was a big basket beside her bed, and on top a label that said, “Reach in and take out a package when you don’t know what else to do. From ‘The Sunshiners.’ ”

Just then Jennie’s mother came in with her breakfast.

“Oh, Mother!” exclaimed Jennie, “how can I wait till after breakfast before I reach in my hand? What do you suppose is in the basket?”

I am afraid Jennie did not eat much breakfast, but she waited until Mother had washed her face and brushed her hair, and father had moved her cot to the window.

At last the time came when she had “nothing to do.” Then she put her hand under the cover of the basket and felt the bundles. She took out the first one she felt; and which do you suppose it was? It was the little box that held the doll. On the top it said, “I am little orphan Arabella, and I am looking for a mamma to dress me.”

Jennie had a delightful time cutting out patterns and making clothes for little orphan Arabella. She did not open any more of her bundles for a day or two, for she wanted to make them last. And they did last for several weeks.

The girls enjoyed their giving so much that they decided to be “Sunshiners” all the year round, and they asked Jennie to be a member of the society. She could quickly think of nice things to do. Months later, when the weight was taken off her foot and she was able to walk, she was always finding someone to help and make happy, as every true “Sunshiner” should.

True Education Reader, Fourth Grade, ©1931, 272–275.