Description & History

Project Sunshine empowers a dedicated corps of over 18,000 volunteers to bring creative, recreational, and educational programs to more than 150,000 children facing medical challenges and their families across the United States and in four international locations: Canada, China, Israel, and Kenya. Project Sunshine partners with over 325 medical centers to meet the non-medical, social-emotional needs of these pediatric patients.

Volunteers deliver Direct Service programs like Creative Arts & Crafts, Sunshine Chefs, and Book Buddies. Through volunteering, individuals have the opportunity to give back to the communities where they live and work, broaden their personal networks, and connect with other compassionate volunteers.

Our volunteers are a diverse group – all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and professions. From business executives to stay-at-home parents, from retirees to young professionals, our volunteers are united by their dedication to brightening the stays of hospitalized children and their families. Chapters, comprised of passionate individuals who are dedicated to Project Sunshine’s mission, range in size from as few as five volunteers to as many as 300.

Project Sunshine provides its volunteers flexible opportunities to participate in programs – whether it is several days a week, once a month, or at a special event once a year.

Joe Weilgus founded Project Sunshine in 1998 after visiting a friend in the hospital, where he noticed so many young patients sitting alone in their rooms with nothing to do. Unable to forget what he saw, Joe returned to the hospital the following week dressed up as a clown determined to spread cheer. He realized that through “clowning around” with the kids and keeping them company, every young patient could benefit from the same support and companionship. Project Sunshine continues to address and raise awareness for the emotional needs of children facing medical challenges and their often forgotten caregivers.

About the organization

Project Sunshine

Katy Kienitz
Associate Program Manager
(212) 354-8035
Organization’s website: