United Way Women to Collect Towels, Toiletries and Luggage for Local Foster Youth

By Kate Towson  |  2018-03-21

Volunteers are needed on April 17 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at United Way’s office to package the donations and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth. Photo courtesy United Way

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Local residents can donate new towels, toiletries and luggage for local foster youth through United Way’s Women United Spring Drive happening now through April 17. Items will be donated through Sacramento County’s Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program to more than 260 local foster youth preparing to leave the system and live on their own for the first time. Donations can be purchased from the Amazon wishlist at http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/event/spring-towel-toiletry-and-luggage-drive or can be dropped off at United Way’s office at 10389 Old Placerville Road in Sacramento.

Volunteers are needed on April 17 from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at United Way’s office to package the donations and write notes of encouragement to each of the foster youth.

“The goal of the Spring Drive is to support foster youth as they prepare to leave the system,” said Jessica Gauna-Miller of United Way’s Women United. “Foster youth in our community often lack the basic household necessities you need when living on your own for the first time, such as towels, luggage and toiletries. When you participate in the Spring Drive, you’re setting foster youth up for success.”

United Way’s Women United action group in the California Capital Region is a powerful force of 350 local women and supporters making sure local foster youth are prepared for success in college or career when they leave foster care. This focus is part of the Square One Project, the local United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career.

Formerly known as Women in Philanthropy, the local Women United group is now part of the global Women United network of more than 70,000 women leaders taking action in their communities. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org/WomenUnited.

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Project Linus Seeks Blanketeers for Local Children in Need

By Elise Spleiss  |  2018-03-20

An elementary soccer team with blankets from Sacramento Chapter Linus Project Photo courtesy of Claire Gliddon

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – On Christmas Eve morning, 1995, Karen Loucks came across the compelling photo of a bald three-year-old girl named Laura Williams in a long pink dress, holding her special “blankie.”   

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning photo-journalist Eddie Adams, the article in Parade Magazine told of Laura’s battle with leukemia and how her blanket has helped her get through more than two years of grueling chemotherapy.

After reading that article, Karen Loucks, who was 23 at the time, and had just learned to crochet, decided she could crochet blankets to help children like Laura; thus started Project Linus.

To date, Loucks, her friends and hundreds of volunteers have presented thousands of homemade blankets to Denver's Rocky Mountain Children's Cancer Center and many other venues locally and worldwide.  

‘Linus’ was chosen for the logo, as the image of Charles Schulz’s beloved Peanuts character with his trusted security blanket tells the mission of the project perfectly.

Since 1995, 400 chapters nationwide have delivered close to 7,000,000 blankets to children in need of all ages.

In a recent phone interview with Loucks, she said, “For me, it’s thrilling to be a part of this… I don’t like to do something unless I can make a difference. I don’t get on the hamster wheel just to see it turn…. Here I can see results every day. We can’t stop the disasters but can have a positive effect and help where we can… It’s kids helping kids, they use their own hands to help others.”

The Sacramento Chapter, with Claire Gliddon at the helm since 1997, is working tirelessly to get their own blankets out to children in need in Sacramento and Placer counties. Local “blanketeers” made and delivered 12,437 blankets to needy children in 2017.

Today Gliddon is seeking more volunteers of all ages and organizations that need that “hug” for children.  Donations of material and yarn to make even more blankets are needed. Seniors and others who love to knit, crochet, quilt or sew can join in the fun and camaraderie of creating something that will make a huge difference in the life of a child or teenager. These ‘homemade hugs’ can be as simple or complex as the creator choses.

There are no meetings, no quotas.  The only requisite is that blankets be new, handmade and washable. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, whether you can make one blanket a year or 100, all are welcome. Blankets can be made at home, with friends, at a community facility such as the Fair Oaks Library, or at one of the many chapter gatherings that take place all over Sacramento and Placer County. Yarn and fabric is available if needed.

“Blanketeers” include seniors, members of faith communities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Clubs and both junior high and high school students needing community service hours.  Yarn is even provided to the Chowchilla Women’s Prison and men at Folsom State Prison to make blankets for the chapter. 

Blankets are donated to over 100 local organizations all year. These include hospitals, low-income elementary schools, food closets, shelters, police departments, child abuse prevention programs, the Sheriff’s Department, Ronald McDonald House, My Mother’s Voice, My Sister’s House and Wellspring Women’s Center, to name a few.  Blankets are also donated to children of veterans.  Every blanket gets a tag sewn on that says, “Made with Love for Project Linus.”

The children know the difference from a manufactured blanket and are “touched that a stranger would take the time to make something for them.” One child stated, “This is the only thing in the hospital that’s mine.”

Following the Columbine school shooting in 1999, blanket donations expanded to victims of other disasters. Besides mostly staying local, children affected by 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, fires in California, and school shootings are just some of the recipients of blankets from Gliddon’s blanketeers.

Gliddon and her volunteers have been invited to exhibit their blankets at the California State Fair since 2015.

A special plea is going out to all collectors for new or almost new Beanie Babies. The project starts at the beginning of each December when they choose a handful of low income schools and present every kindergartener with a warm blanket.  A very special touch is the addition of a Beanie Baby in a little pouch with each blanket.  In 2017, 790 blankets were delivered to these schools just before Winter break.

Those who join receive an information packet with a list of gatherings, drop-off sites and suggested sizes.  For more info, contact Claire Gliddon at (916) 965-8955, e-mail claire@sac.projectlinus.us or visit their website www.sacprojectlinus.org and Facebook page at Project Linus-Sacramento-Chapter.

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Choosing Kindness: A Hands-On Approach to Understanding

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-03-20

Dwight Lunkley has a little fun with some of the students in a sensitivity workshop at California Montessori Project, American River Campus in Fair Oaks.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - One of the students had a little trouble reaching the foot pedals on his wheelchair.  The break was a bit of a challenge too. As he tried rolling it out on to the blacktop at the California Montessori Project, American River Campus in Fair Oaks, a trail of fellow fourth graders followed, bringing up the rear.

This was exactly the kind of learning experience intended: hands on, real time, fumbling through it kind of learning.  It was only for practice however, practice for what it really feels like to be wheel chair bound.  Once the students tackled the wheel chair they got a shot at walking blindfolded with a white cane, punching out their names backward in Braille, learning about how prosthetic limbs work and what it feels like to have the not-so visible kinds of disabilities, such as autism and dyslexia.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” said Alaina Lawrence, 9 of Carmichael working at the Braille learning table.  She and some of her schoolmates were participating in an onsite sensitivity and awareness workshop led by volunteers with the Granit Bay-based nonprofit organization, A Touch of Understanding (ATOU).  Officially launched in 1996 by Leslie DeDora and her father, Edward Ennis, ATOU marshals the wisdom and experience of volunteers, many with disabilities themselves, and, along with a truck-load of props, heads into schools across many portions of the Northern California region to conduct onsite workshops for school age children in an effort to minimize bullying, social isolation and discrimination against those living with disabilities. 

“We know children are curious and they will ask questions if they feel comfortable doing so,” said DeDora.  “What we do is provide a safe space for them to learn how to talk to and accept someone who is different from them. I think in many cases kids in schools mistreat others because we don’t give them the information they need to truly understand what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes.”

Dwight Lunkley, who sports two prosthetic arms and is partially disfigured from a near-death off-roading accident in 1994, handled a portion of the speaker sessions that accompany the hands-on activities.  He says there’s nothing more impactful than one-on-one interaction with children as a way to teach tolerance and educate them about what happened to him and how it has impacted his life.  

“I love coming in to the schools and talking to kids,” said Lunkley.  “You’d be amazed at how smart, compassionate and inquisitive they are about me.  So we work together to teach them about what is going on with us, why and how we are really just like them and that even with a physical disability we can have happy lives.  But we show them, we don’t just tell them.  That’s how they learn the compassion.”

DeDora said her aunt had intellectual disabilities that were initially difficult for her to understand until she was taught by her parents about the importance of celebrating, not rejecting someone because of their differences.

“I remember inadvertently making my aunt cry because I didn’t understand why she looked like the adults in the room, but acted like the kids,” said DeDora.

DeDora parlayed that early education in compassion into a career working as a tutor of students with disabilities in the public schools system.  Realizing more could be done to provide young people with tangible opportunities for breaking down misconceptions about people with disabilities, she launched “Walk a Mile In Their Shoes” in 1996.  After conducting 60 successful “pilot” presentations, ATOU was formed.  Today, the organization has an annual budget of approximately $400,000, three staff members and an army of volunteers, including interns from Sacramento State College working on degrees in adaptive recreation, nursing programs or other related fields.

Much of ATOU’s funding comes through grants and the sensitivity workshops, the fees for which $1,200 each are split between ATOU and the participating campus.

ATOU also relies heavily on funds raised during its annual “Art from the Heart” gala, now in its fifth year.  This year’s gala is slated for April 20.  Donated artwork is displayed and available for purchase.  The event includes silent and live auctions, a raffle, wine, appetizers and likely some of the most inspirational speakers you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing from.

“It will be a fun, informative and inspirational evening, celebrating art in its many forms and embracing those among us with disabilities,” DeDora said.

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - A two-year criminal investigation by the California Highway Patrol, Valley Division Investigative Services Unit, culminated yesterday in the arrests of five employees from Sacramento County-based Davis Tow Incorporated (Davis Tow), which included the owners. 

The investigation revealed Davis Tow developed business practices that involved the illegal towing of vehicles from commercial properties in the area of Sleep Train Arena in order to profit from the towing and impound fees. 

Davis Tow routinely failed to properly report private property tows resulting in increased storage fees and often the lien sale of the vehicles at a profit to Davis Tow.  Each of the individuals listed below were arrested and charged with 29 counts of auto theft (10851(a) V.C.) and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime (182(a)(1) P.C.).  Bail for each person has been set at $1,000,000. 

Owners

Scott Gordon Davis, 54 – Placerville                                                        

Christopher Gerald Davis, 46 – Antelope                                                                

Leslie James McKenzie, 50 – Chico                                                            

Employees

Andrew Robert Harless, 30 – Homewood

Erik Steven Dyer, 37 – Elverta                      

The investigation thus far has identified more than 250 victims resulting in approximately $100,000 in damages.  If you feel that you have been a victim of an unlawfully towed vehicle by Davis Tow, please go to http://www.chp.ca.gov/davis-tow-investigation, where you can complete an incident report or call the California Highway Patrol at (916) 731-6431.

 

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Wildlife Care Association's Bloom Boom Flower Power Planting Event Has Been Rained Out

By Rick Reed  |  2018-03-15

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Wildlife Care Association Bloom Boom Flower Power planting event set for Saturday March 17th has been rained out. Standing water, muddy soil and more rain forecast will make tilling and planting impossible.

The event is now rescheduled for Saturday, April 14th 12pm – 4 pm at Wildlife Care Association, 5211 Patrol Road, McClellan Park.

Wildlife Care Association of Sacramento is engaging ‘flower power’ to brighten the non-profit’s rehabilitation facility at McClellan Park. The state’s second largest volunteer wildlife rehab group is transforming the old USAF Radar dome it now calls home with the bright faces of sunflowers!

Volunteers are needed to help plant a sunflower garden with assistance from Woodland’s Dr. Tom Heaton, creator of fabulous hybrid sunflower seeds. His company Sunflower Selections will provide seed for their newest creation in White Sunflower hybrids and Yellow varieties to provide seeds for wildlife. Led by Sacramento’s own garden star, Plant Lady Marlene Simon and volunteer’s will create a sunflower line garden in a day!

The event is now set for Saturday April 14th and volunteers are needed to help create a burst of color with flower power. Volunteer@wildlifeassociation.com to take part in the Bloom Boom event this April.

If you find wildlife in distress call 916-965-WILD for help.

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SACRAMENT REGION, CA (MPG) - WHAT: As Toys “R” Us announces the closure of 800 U.S. stores affecting as many as 33,000 jobs, Thunder Valley Casino Resort seeks to immediately hire qualified Toys “R” Us employees at a Job Fair on Saturday, March 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“We have immediate openings for qualified candidates, with opportunities to advance,” said Debi Fetzner, Vice President of Human Resources. “Thunder Valley is one of the area’s premier places to work, with great benefits and supportive team environment. We look forward to meeting anyone interested in learning more about a career in the hospitality industry.”

Benefits for full-time employees include medical, dental, vision, and vacation. All Thunder Valley employees enjoy free parking, one free meal per shift, 401k matching funds, leadership development training, opportunity to advance, free health and wellness counseling, reward incentives, and discounts at Thunder Valley including 30% off at the Spa and Gift Shop, 10% off at restaurants and discounts for select concerts.

Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and successfully pass a drug and background check in order to work at Thunder Valley. To work in positions on the casino floor, candidates must be 21 years of age.

All candidates must be able to work weekends and holidays. Please apply online at www.thundervalleyresort.com/careers before attending the job fair.

WHEN:          Saturday, March 17    

9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

WHERE:       Thunder Valley Casino Resort    

Employment Center

1200 Athens Avenue

Lincoln, CA 95648

 

 

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Annual Roseville Gem Show Rocks On for 2018

By MPG Staff  |  2018-03-15

Featured (above) a budding “rockhound” under supervision as she delicately sorts through a tray of semi -precious stones during the Gem Hunt event during the Gem Show. Photo courtesy Roseville Rock Rollers.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Roseville Rock Rollers 56th Annual Gem, Jewelry, Fossil, and Mineral Show will take place at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville March 24-25. Hosted by the Roseville Rock Rollers, also known as the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society, this year’s show features gemstones, jewelry, fossils and minerals and has something for the whole family.

The group was established in 1960 as a group of local “rockhounds,” according to show chair James Hutchings. That group, deeply interested in the science and art of the earths' natural beauty in rocks and minerals, first met in homes and then as their numbers grew, expanded to the use of a local school room.

This year’s show has dozens of exhibits for attendees, such as jewelry, metal, wire and glass beading arts, fossils, crystals and minerals, but that’s not all. So that attendees aren’t rushed, the show also provides a cafeteria. “A very fine hot lunch is available at our own kitchen in Johnson Hall,” states Hutchings. The group has put together a menu of very reasonably priced food and beverages will also be available at the show’s cafeteria.

In addition to exhibits, classes and demonstrations, show goers can pan for gold, purchase equipment, buy raffle tickets, have rocks, gems and mineral identified by experts or make purchases at a silent auction.

Wishing to share the art and science of the mineral world, in the tradition of gem and mineral shows around the world, the Roseville Rock Rollers established their own gem and mineral show around 1962. The society grew, the show grew, and the show and the Society moved to the Placer County Fairgrounds where it continues today.

“As the Roseville Gem and Mineral Society has expanded, the show expanded to support the costs associated with its programs, such as the Rookie Rock Rollers, juniors program, the Annual Scholarship program to Geology Students at Sacramento State Geology Department, and our year round Lapidary shop on the fairgrounds,” said Hutchings. “The lapidary shop on the Fair Grounds is the heart and soul of our Society, where we teach lapidary arts, jewelry fabrication, conduct mineral identification and mini tail gate rock sales.”

Hutchings developed his love for “rockhounding” at an early age. “Personally, I as most young people, was fascinated with rocks minerals and crystals. My parents encouraged me with my first Golden Book of Rocks and Minerals, a book still in current print, and my first rock pick.”

At the age of 38, he became seriously interested in rockhounding and gold mining, attending a mineral identification course at Sierra College, next pursuing an in depth understanding the chemistry and physics that form “these miracles in the earth.” He has put that knowledge to good use today providing what he refers to as a “mini lab” during the show to test rocks, minerals, and gems to provide guest an idea of materials they have in their possession.

While the Rock Rollers must generate funds to keep their programs operating, the primary purpose of any Gem and Mineral Show is to promote the Art and Science of the mineral world, according to Hutchings.

Like many of the group members, an early exposure to rockhounding and lapidary arts often provides a genesis of interest that often blossoms later in life, Hutchings said. “We really work hard, to attract the parents who want to expose their children to the natural world and foster that spark.”

There are presentations and activities for youngsters on identifying and handling specimens of all kinds. Students and Scouts can reinforce their California Rock Cycle curriculum and merit badge information. Scouts can have their mineral finds evaluated for rock type or mineral and validated for their required collection.

Hutchings suggests visitors come early and plan on spending the day at the show. “We take over the entire fairgrounds with exhibits, demonstrators, and vendors.” 

Not to be missed are real treasures the group will have on display. “Folks tend to walk by the display cases,” he said. “These simple, well lighted boxes contain the best of the best of personal collections of minerals in variety or by theme. The displays are, ‘literally’ miniature museums showcasing specimens in the possession of individuals who have spent a lifetime collecting the best of the best of their favorite species of rock or mineral,” said Hutchings.

“We are looking for the general public who are looking for gem stones, set and unset, handmade, and fine art jewelry, and mineral specimens from every corner of the world! We find the single most striking comment from folks who, by accident, end up at our show is, “I had no idea such things existed in the world!’’

For more information, tickets and coupons, visit the group’s website at www.rockrollers.com

Contributed by James Hutchings, Roseville Rock Rollers Show Chair

 

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