When Pockets Full of Sunshine was formed in 2015, the non-profit’s mission was to make the South Carolina Lowcountry a “sunnier” place by providing inclusive social and vocational opportunities for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The founders — special education teachers Dayna Dehlinger and Laurin Rivers, and Carol and RJ Bartholomew, the parents of a young adult with special needs who was nearing graduation from high school — recognized a need for increased services for special adults that went beyond simply providing a safe place to go during the day.
The services “Pockets” provides can range from giving “Rays” — their nickname for the exceptional people they serve — opportunities to work for the organization’s screen-printing business or creating hand-made goods they sell at local markets to job training and social events — or even baking cookies with professional golfers.
When Pockets leadership learned that the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament was holding a cookie baking contest, the Rays wanted to take part.
“We thought this contest would be an exciting opportunity for our Rays and a great excuse to practice some functional skills in the kitchen,” Pockets Full of Sunshine co-founder Laurin Rivers said.
Little did they know it would grow into the opportunity of a lifetime, because the Rays didn’t just enter the cookie contest — they won it.
The Rays went into the test kitchen at the new University of South Carolina Beaufort campus on Hilton Head Island and created their “gluten-free but still delicious” recipe for “Peanut Butter Putter” cookies, complete with RBC-colored yellow and blue M&Ms. The cookies were a hole-in-one with the judges, and the “Peanut Butter Putter” cookie was named one of the “Official Cookies of Plaid Nation” and sold at concession stands throughout the tournament.
Baking and individually packaging 1,200 cookies required calling in some hired help, though, and PGA Tour star Jim Furyk — a two-time RBC Heritage champion and captain of the United States team for the upcoming Ryder Cup — joined the Rays in the kitchen to lend a hand.
“It was such a treat to meet such a kind man who took instantly to our wonderful adults,” Rivers said.
Furyk even tagged the sunshine keychain the Rays presented him with to his golf bag during the Heritage, and footage from his time in the kitchen was featured in CBS’ national telecast.
Pockets also stole the spotlight during the Heritage when music star Darius Rucker strayed from his job as an on-course commentator in search of a Peanut Butter Putter cookie only to find the concession stand had sold out. Carol Bartholomew moved quickly to find a cookie and deliver it to the Hootie & The Blowfish frontman, and the two posed for a photo together that appeared in local media and spread online.
The organization has capitalized on that momentum by offering the Peanut Butter Putter cookies for sale at the Wexford Market alongside homemade greeting cards and crafts. They sold out of cookies at their last market, and they’ve also been fulfilling custom orders, so they’re hopeful they can expand to add more recipes in the future.
To help Pockets Full of Sunshine keep providing these special opportunities for their Rays, please make a donation and help “spread the sun.”