When my neighbor suggested we go one afternoon to the store at Sunshine Acres Children’s Home, I imagined a makeshift space filled with crocheted afghans and God’s eyes made of yarn and popsicle sticks.
I was wrong. And I’ve since been back three times.
The Sunshine Boutique, an old brick cottage that operations director Cindy Humphrey whipped into a homey little retail space, is as bright as its name implies. Clean and friendly, it’s filled with vignettes staged to show off everything from crystal candleholders and blue Ball jars to wooden desks and wrought iron wall hangings.
“I put new stuff in almost every day, but Wednesdays are when the inventory really changes up every week,” says Humphrey, who redesigns the store each week around a new crop of furniture, art, dishes and decor items — all donations to the Mesa home for boys and girls in need.
She and retired house mother Phyllis Decious select only the nicest items in good condition to sell in the boutique, which is manned by a dedicated, mostly volunteer staff. Sometimes, the goods arrive in fine shape and are sold as-is; other times Humphrey works a little magic on them first.
“I paint and re-upholster. I re-create and rework things as they come in, repurposing them for other uses. We’ve got an organ from the late 1800s now that I’m turning into a bar. Instead of throwing old stuff away, we like to re-use it, give it another life.”
Humphrey was 5 years old when she moved with her parents to Sunshine Acres; the home was started in 1954 by her grandparents, and her family moved there to help run it.
“Growing up here, we repurposed a lot of things because we didn’t have money to buy them. We were always fixing things and re-painting them. I learned from the ground up how to re-use things and give them another life.”
Spillover donations are sold in the Donation Center Store, a warehouse across from the boutique. It’s arranged more like a traditional thrift store and filled with home sofas, dining sets, bookcases, household electrics and appliances, clothes, toys, books, bicycles, tools and knick-knacks. A large Christmas section will open Aug. 15.
“I always told my grandmother I would love a boutique, and it’s just a joy to do. It’s not a job. It’s a joy and a love to do this because it continues the legacy my grandparents started as a way to care for these children,” says Humphrey.
All proceeds from the boutique and store help offset housing, food, clothing, education and care expenses for the children who live on the property. Children stay a minimum of 12 months, but a child may stay into their early adult/college years if necessary.
Sunshine Acres Children’s Home is at 3405 N. Higley Road in Mesa. The boutique is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. The Donation Center Store inside the warehouse is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For weekly specials and sales, winter hours, or donation pick-up, call (480) 832-2540. Sunshine Acres is online at SunshineAcres.org.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org