In the latest Around Town column, news about a fundraiser that has resulted in hundreds of meals for hospital workers, an anonymous donation of new books handed out to local students and Rise Together Education's new leader.
FEEDING THE FRONT LINE ... What began as a conversation between Stanford University employees about how to help the community at the start of the stay-at-home order has evolved into a three-pronged fundraising effort that's showing no signs of slowing down. Maria Gregorio of the university's IT Department said it all started on a university Slack channel, where members of different departments gathered in a chat room to brainstorm ideas. They ended up launching two separate GoFundMe pages: one to raise money to help build 3D face shields and another to feed health care providers and hospital workers. The sites had raised $2,111 and $8,885, respectively, as of Friday afternoon. The "Meals For Front Liners" effort started with employees at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. It has since expanded to three more hospitals: Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center and St. Rose Hospital in Hayward. As of Wednesday, the group has donated 904 meals, 200 cupcakes, and 80 Starbucks coffee travelers, in addition to free food provided by local eateries. Food trucks, shops and restaurants that helped the group include Fish Taco Wabo, Falafel & Things, Antonik's BBQ, Redwood City's Sigona's Farmers Market and Yessis Cake Creations, Tea It Up in Menlo Park, Pizza Guys in San Jose and Crepevine gave 500 meals that were handed out on May 18. Earlier this month, the group also began selling 18-pound boxes of red and yellow cherries for $35 each from Sacramento area farms, yielding more than 250 boxes that were distributed on May 15. Locals who placed an order picked up their fruit at a designated time at the Rinconada Library parking lot, a location recommended by the Police Department to avoid a large gathering outside of Gregorio's Southgate home. Because the farmers gave Gregorio a volume discount, she was able to donate the price difference to the "Meals for Frontliners" effort. "Anybody could really make a difference if you really want to. If you just put your heart in the right place, people will see your sincerity and the fruits of your labor," Gregorio said. More information on the fruit orders can be found here.
HITTING THE BOOKS ... Hundreds of Palo Alto Unified elementary and middle school students with limited access to books at home received new books for free this week, thanks to an anonymous donation to nonprofit Access Books Bay Area. With schools and public libraries closed, the nonprofit is distributing books to prevent learning loss for students in need. School district teachers are already reporting declining reading skills among students who are already at increased risk for the so-called "summer slide" and a widening achievement gap, according to Access Books. The nonprofit distributes books to kids in need throughout the Peninsula and is accepting donations, which help Access Books expand to more schools. More information can be found at accessbooksbayarea.org/covid-19-response.
A NEW LEADER ... Rise Together Education, a nonprofit that helps Palo Alto High students from low-income backgrounds prepare and complete their college education, has appointed a new leader. Dawn Billman has been named president of the organization's board of directors, according to a May 18 press release. Her work with the nonprofit dates back to 2017, when she started out as the fundraising chairperson. Over the past three years, she has helped the organization introduce new fundraisers, including galas held over the past two years. Billman, a 20-year Palo Alto resident and mother to three Paly alumni, brings experience in management for-profit and nonprofit organizations, in addition to working with Santa Clara County nonprofits. She has volunteered with many local groups, including the Magical Bridge Playground, Paly's Fiery Arts program and Palo Alto Playersf. "Dawn is passionate about supporting the social and emotional health and welfare of all children and teens and providing opportunities for continued learning and development for our youth," according to the press release.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.