By Gretchen Giles
For 20 years now, the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County has organized a Secret Santa campaign that brings businesses together with radio station KZST-1001.FM to help those in need get a least one new, shiny and much-needed object into the home for the holidays. This year, the Volunteer Center estimates it will need at least 14,000 of those new, shiny and much-needed objects.
To help, radio host Brent Farris swings into action on Saturday, Nov. 21, at Friedman's Home Improvement Center in Santa Rosa. He'll broadcast live from the locally owned superstore at 10am, reading letters from families detailing their circumstances and their desires for themselves and their children. Of special note this year is an emphasis on adult giving, particularly for those who find themselves alone or ill during the winter holidays. "People who are in care or nursing homes can be very lonely at the holidays," reminds Volunteer Center staffer Wayne Mitchell.
With Friedman's support, the Volunteer Center will collect the wish lists of needy citizens. Red, heart-shaped gift tags will be hung at businesses throughout the North Bay so that shoppers can ably see a little something that they can do while they're out and busy with holiday chores. Exchange Bank and Mary's Pizza Shack are among the active business participants.
"The Santa part of the program is that the givers don't know who the recipients are and the recipients don't know who the Santas are. It really exemplifies the Christmas spirit," Mitchell says.
Gifts will be gathered, wrapped and delivered in advance of Dec. 25. According to Volunteer Center executive director Eunice Valentine, "We're seeing more people in need than ever before in the 38-year history" of her nonprofit. Times have sure been better. To learn more about how you or your company can participate, go to www.volunteernow.org. Friedman's, 4055 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.584.7811.
Cheer up, kids! You don't need to be a Mensa member to be a part of their organization—at least when it comes to college. The Redwood Empire chapter of American Mensa, the high-IQ society, is offering scholarships to any student in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Humboldt and even Del Norte counties based on a required essay outlining the applicant's career, vocational or academic goals. You needn't qualify for Mensa membership, whose rules in the somewhat shaky science of IQ testing explain that applicants must score within the top 2 percent of a standard intelligence tests. Genius is generally settled at a score of 140. But the Redwood Empire chapter doesn't care if you dwell in the 90s ("normal" intelligence range) as long as you wanna go on and learn some more. To learn about this particular offer, go to www.mensafoundation.org/scholarships or send an SASE to 30 Raymond Heights, Petaluma CA 94952-4943.
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