Bright Ideas: Sunshine Cart

When South Suburban Humane Society’s CEO, Emily Klehm, posted the above photo in The Association’s members-only Facebook group, her colleagues in the field were not stingy with the Love button. The Sunshine Cart is perfect for kicking off our new regular feature, Bright Ideas. Part how-to, part inspo, this is a forum to share your innovative, impactful programs and processes so others can give them a try.

How It Started

I’m pretty sure I read about the idea in the comments section of the Maddie’s Leadership Meetings on Mondays, and it only took me a few days to put it all together. I parked it in front of our staff mailboxes right outside my office, and I put this message in Slack: 

“Good morning!  Today in the open office space there is a Sunshine Cart. What’s a Sunshine Cart?  It’s a cart full of stuff that might bring you a little smile or ray of sunshine today. There’s drinks and snacks, but also random stuff like socks, coloring books, a mug, spa products, a yoga mat, and more. Please visit the cart today and take something that sparks a teeny bit of joy. And if you don’t come and take stuff, I will be forced to wheel the cart around the building and in my best Harry Potter character voice say, “Anything off the trolley, dears?”

How It Went

I was actually totally surprised that they all started coming! The Clinic teams were first, and they were oohing and ahhing and laughing. I make it a priority to get to know my team, and so I had purposefully picked some products that I thought individuals would really love—and it worked. It gave me such incredible joy to hear them, and to a person they popped their heads into my office to genuinely show gratitude.  

How It’s Going

Our budget is super tight and so I did pay for everything myself—and I know that’s not practical for everyone. Going forward, I’m going to pay attention to the Target clearance items and pick up stuff all along the way, so I have a stash of items for future Sunshine Carts!

Got a Bright Idea you’d like to share? Leave a comment and tell us a little about it, and we’ll follow up for more info.


Emily Klehm, CAWA, has served as CEO of South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights for fifteen years. In her tenure, the organization established a thriving high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic, partnered to open a low-cost veterinary services clinic, opened an additional adoption center, and has transformed the shelter from a 50% live release rate to a 90% rate. In 2020, Klehm secured a $7,000,000 government grant and led a capital campaign that raised an additional $2,400,000 to build a new animal shelter campus scheduled for completion in June 2022. Her previous background is in community organizing and nonprofit fundraising. She shares her home with Charlie, Doug, and Stripes, her three adopted pets from SSHS.


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