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Sunshine services offer ray of light for area seniors

When you're having a bad day, sometimes all it takes is a little friendly mail to put you in a good mood.

That's the idea behind Rosemount Area Seniors' sunshine services, an outreach effort that send cards to members when they're sick, when they're grieving or even when they're celebrating a birthday milestone.

Nobody makes a big deal of it - "It's kind of a low-key thing," RAS president Darline Lehman said - but it's been popular enough to stick around for a decade or more.

Betty Zanmiller is the RAS member currently in charge of sending out the cards. She takes requests from anyone who knows a member who could use a pick-me-up.

"Occasionally I know someone that needs a card, but 99 percent of the time it's because another member of the group will call and say someone has fallen or had surgery," Zanmiller said. "I'm very careful to find out exactly why I'm sending the card, because some cards would be inappropriate for certain situations.... If you've got somebody who's within weeks of dying of cancer, you don't want to send a cheery get well soon card."

If she knows the person well, Zanmiller might include a personal message. Otherwise, she just includes a message from the RAS as a whole. She keeps track of the cards she sends, and Lehman reports them at RAS board meetings.

Zanmiller has provided the cards for a few years now. She was set to tell Lehman the group had to buy more last week, but her daughter called to say she had some to donate.

It's a small gesture, but Lehman and Zanmiller believe it's important.

"Not everyone has a loving family to send them cards," Zanmiller said. "Everyone likes to be remembered."