Category Archives: Charity

Takeimi Rao – YOUR help needed!

Tomorrow there will be a funeral service for Takeimi Rao, the 14 year old girl who passed away at her own slumber party this past weekend after a drinking accident. The funeral is at 2pm at St. Eugene’s Cathedral in Santa Rosa. Afterwards, there will be a potluck reception at the same campus. Because this has received so much attention in the media, the family is expecting a large number of people to attend – and they need your help.

If you’ve been wondering what you can do to assist a family in need, here is one way you can.

The first thing they need is food. While the reception after the funeral is a potluck, they are concerned that not enough people are aware of this fact. So I am asking if any of you are able to donate food – from large quantities to a batch of your favorite cookies – it would be much appreciated.

Paper plates, napkins, cups, soda, plastic utensils….  These are also needed.

They are also in need of volunteers to help organize and set up at the service. This group would need to show up at 2pm at St. Eugene’s. Or you can stay afterwards to help with cleanup.  If you can volunteer your time, please let me know.

***NOTE:  Paper products and supplies are no longer needed.  But they are still very much in need of food or desserts.  These can be dropped off at the Becker Center on the St. Eugene’s Campus (the building at the end of the parking lot) at 2pm.***

Contact me at if you can help in any way. Thank you so much for your generosity!

Hope 4 Ella Day

Every morning, families rise with the sun and prepare for the day. Kids wake up and stall, having to be reminded constantly to get dressed, eat breakfast, pack up their school bags, make lunch, and for heaven’s sake, go get your shoes on! We are on them from the time they are up until the time they go to bed. We are tripping over their things in the living room. We are encouraging them to stay seated with the TV off until their homework is done. We are fixing them dinner only to have them turn their nose up at it. We are carting them from activity to activity, pleading with them to please stop picking on their brother, and don’t have the chance to collapse until they are finally in bed.

Somewhere in Sebastopol, one mom is wishing so much that she could endure all these tribulations with her daughter. You see, while we are taking for granted all these little trials our kids put us through, her daughter is lying in a coma, as she has been off and on for more than 55 days. Over the summer, 7 year old Ella was riddled with flu-like symptoms and sleepless nights. Her family had her tested for everything before finally taking her in for a CT scan. The results showed that Ella had developed a large cancerous tumor in her brain. The doctors were able to remove most of the tumor, but warned the family that there was a slight chance she might slip into a coma as a result. Most people are alert within two days. Ella was not. And her family misses her terribly. To make things harder, Ella’s body still possesses cancer cells that were not killed with her first round of radiation. Soon she will be starting a second round of radiation.

Of course, nothing could help relieve this family of the pain they are going through besides their daughter’s miraculous recovery. But Santa Rosa Community Market is looking to relieve some of this burden on their shoulders by helping them out financially. They have declared this Friday, October 22nd, Hope for Ella Day. On this day, they are donating 10% of their proceeds to the family’s fund to help pay for the mounting costs of their daughter’s treatment. This is just one of many ways Santa Rosa Community Market, as a not-for-profit organization, has stepped up to the plate to serve their community in whatever ways they can.

For more information on Hope 4 Ella Day, visit SR Community Market’s website at To read up more on Ella, please visit her family’s heartwrenching blog that details her battle against a cancer that doesn’t understand she’s just a little girl:

To donate directly towards hotel, food and medical costs, please send checks to Deborah and Glen Stewart: 11002 Peaks Pike Rd. Sebastopol, CA, 95472. Any amount helps!

Hope For Ella Day will be all day on Friday October 22nd during business hours. Community Market is located at 1899 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.

Ready, Set, Bag! – benefit for REFB

Nerves were racking in Virginia’s Food City, the first setting of “Ready, Set, Bag!”, a documentary on competitive grocery bagging by Executive Producer and Pixar CTO, Oren Jacob, and directed by his wife Justine Jacob as well as Alex D. da Silva. The winner would be flown to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to compete in the National Grocers Association’s Best Bagger competition. Not only would the baggers have to be fast, the bags had to be packed properly – no squished bread or frozen peas below cans – and the weight of each bag had to be even.

States across the country held their own bag-a-thons to compete for the big event. Some held competitions reminiscent of rock concerts, treating the baggers like celebrities while they cheered them on under strings of lights wearing togas, referees and announcers called out the stats (California, where else?). Others kept their grocery store settings or held the competitions in banquet halls. One clerk was an adorable, naïve teenager who was a member of the school band when he wasn’t bagging groceries. Another was an anal retentive bagger who would go so far as to unpack his co-workers bags because they weren’t up to his standards. From California was a red-haired teen from Davis with a cult following and a twin brother who looked nothing like him. Moms, dads, sons, daughters – all ages and types of people were on their way to Vegas to see who was the best of the best, the fastest of the fastest.

Cheryl Gleason, Director of Training at Nugget Markets in Davis, CA, gave the best quote in the movie, and I can’t help but spoil it here. “We see 24-26,000 guests a week. That’s 24-26,000 opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. Sometimes that little gesture of taking somebody out to their car, opening the car door – I mean, they’re such slight little things, but those are the moments where people go, ‘Ok, that was great.’ It’s the warm and fuzzy. It’s the warm and fuzzy that makes you feel good about humanity.” She went on to say, “Everybody goes to the grocery store. It doesn’t matter what your income, what your job, what your nationality, race. Everybody’s got to buy groceries. Because we’re so busy, sometimes you don’t see your neighbors unless you see them in the grocery store. You know, you can get a person just coming in from work, they’re dressed to the nines. And then you get the person that just woke up, hasn’t combed their hair, threw on a sweatshirt, in their sweats and still in their slippers. And so it’s a common thing that we all do, we all understand, we all need. Whether it’s buying $500 worth of groceries, or just picking up a gallon of milk. ‘Cause we all go to the supermarket.”

“Ready, Set, Bag!” takes us on a journey to the national competition, letting us get to know the competitors on a personal level before the big day arrives. By the end, I even grew to love the anal retentive bagger.

I won’t spoil the end to say who won; you’ll have to see the movie to see for yourself. And you’ll have the opportunity to see this heartwarming documentary at Rialto Cinemas on Summerfield Rd. in Santa Rosa this Wednesday, December 2nd at 7:15 pm. The makers of “Ready, Set, Bag!” are teaming with many different local food banks, benefitting organizations in the towns they are showing the film. The December 2nd showing at Santa Rosa’s Rialto will be benefitting the Redwood Empire Food Bank, an organization that helps needy families in Sonoma County to be able to have enough food. The Rialto will be offering $1 off admission, and 50 cents off a medium or large popcorn if you bring in two items of non-perishable food. Mechanics Bank will donate $1 for every ticket sold.

You can see the trailer for this film at The film starts out with “Leonardo”, an animated short about the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci done with amusing humor in a pencil sketch format by Academy Award nominee Jim Capobianco. After the film, stay for a Q/A session with the Directors and the Producer.

Rialto admission for adults is $10, kids and seniors are $7. The film runs 90 minutes long.

Weekend Family Fun, Nov 21st – 22nd

Happy Birthday Sparky! When I was a kid, my parents signed me up for ice skating lessons. For years I took lessons at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena.  If I was lucky, my dad would get me hot chocolate at Warm Puppy Café. In the corner sat a table with a “Reserved” sign on it where Charles Schulz sat on occasion to watch families enjoy skating at his ice arena. This Sunday, he will most likely be watching from his “Reserved Table” in the sky as locals gather at the Schulz museum to celebrate what would have been his 87th birthday (November 26th is his actual birthday) celebration. In honor of Sparky’s birthday, the museum is offering free admission all day long, and will be serving ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery from 1 – 3 pm.
Sun Nov 22nd, 11am – 5pm
Ice cream served 1pm – 3pm
Charles Schulz Museum

Family Day and Green String Fest at Green String Farm The third Saturday of the month, Green String Farm hosts Family Day, an event that introduces farming to kids and parents alike through fun activities on the farm. Through arts & crafts projects and some fun games, families will be able to learn about things like composting, water, and farm animals. After the event, families can stay for some farm fresh snacks. Stay a little longer, and you can take part in the Green String Fest! Meet local organizations and local food vendors from around our community, take a tour of the farm, and end the night grooving to the sounds of Faith in Phantoms and the Green String Band. There will be food, hot drinks, and kids’ activities throughout the day. Don’t miss this full day of exciting events at Green String Farm.
To reserve space for Family Day, email Jenny at To learn more about the Green String Fest, be sure to check out their blog entry on the event.
Saturday Nov 21st, 2pm – 3pm Family Day, 3-10pm Green String Fest
Green String Farm – 3571 Old Adobe Rd. Petaluma
Cost: $10, kids get in free. Barter accepted, no one will be refused.

Vintage Holiday Boutique Craft Fairs during the late fall and early winter months always put me in the holiday mood. One fair that has gone all out to give a festive feel to anyone who enters is the Vintage Holiday Boutique in Petaluma. All vendors are selling vintage goods, or vintage-inspired crafts. Set in the historic building of the Open Door Church, even the building is vintage. Get yourself in the holiday spirit at this fun boutique, and maybe even take care of a few people on your holiday gift list!
Sat, Nov 21st, 9am – 3pm
Open Door Church (5th and B streets)

Polar Express Pajama Storytime The holidays in our house always warrants the annual reading of the Polar Express, a fabulous book by Chris Van Allsburg. Borders Bookstore feels the same way. That’s why they will be retelling the story in many of their stores. But wait, it gets better! They are inviting the public to come in their jammies to enjoy the story while being as comfy, cozy as possible. So don those feet pajamas, get out that stuffed rabbit or bear, and curl up at Borders while hearing the exciting tale of a young boy on his train adventure to the North Pole!
Sat, Nov 21st, 11am
Local Borders Bookstores
Located at 2825 Santa Rosa Ave, and at the Coddingtown Mall

Tree Lighting Celebration at Pier 39 The magic of the holidays starts early over at Pier 39 with their annual tree lighting celebration. And to help light the tree, Mickey Mouse and a couple of his friends have come all the way from Disneyland to join in the festivities. Bring the munchkins and take part in the excitement of meeting their favorite Disney friends, and enjoying live entertainment before the official lighting takes place at 5:30pm.
Sun Nov 22nd, 2pm – 5:30pm
Pier 39, San Francisco

Ways to Give

One reader, Amy, suggested giving to She says that she and her son “yearly buy gifts for those on our list from their gift list. Great site to buy something for someone who has everything. Give them the gift of giving!” At the site, you can buy a family a pair of goats, a child a bicycle so that they can get to school, and even a water purifier for a school.

Another reader, Zoe, wants to remind everyone that “the Redwood Empire Food Bank is giving out more food than ever in these tough economic times. Some cans of healthy soups (low sodium, low fat) or other easy to prepare items would be welcomed, I’m sure.” Their Winter Food and Funds Drive is going on now through January 31, 2010. You can drop off cans of food in barrels conveniently located at several local stores. Click here for a list of participating merchants.

Do you know of any family friendly events coming up? Or are you aware of a need that local families can help out with? Leave a comment, or email me at