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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Art of Giving - Tips, Toy Drives, Non-Profits & Thrift Stores

The Art of Giving
& Receiving

By Vesta Copestakes
Many years ago I was offered a rather extravagant gift and felt unprepared to receive such generosity. It’s so easy to give and so challenging to receive some times! I was asked to stand on the other side of that gift and feel the joy this generous heart was feeling as he handed the package to me. He wanted me to receive graciously and just assume he saw me as worthy of such a fine object.

In the Season of Giving, it helps to step across the line to the receiving side and feel what it’s like from the recipient’s perspective. Do they feel joy? Do they feel overwhelmed by the gift. Do they feel obligated by the expectations attached to their response? Do they get the impression that you know who they are…their needs and desires?

At this time of year many people feel more pressure than joy, so it helps to remember that this process of giving is supposed to be about happiness, joy, generosity and personal connection. With that in mind, I’d like to lead you through my collections of the many ways we can give to others.

I’ll start with my tips for people who just haven’t managed to get motivated yet – and move to the many ways we can be generous to those we cherish as well as to perfect strangers. Many of these are suggestions submitted by readers – thank you so much!

Toy Drives of Sonoma County: This information has been up for some time in our BENEFITS CATEGORY - please go to - - there's still time to help our children!

Procrastinators Shopping Tips
By now it’s mid-December and while some people have their presents purchased, wrapped and even shipped to distant family and friends – others haven’t even begun the process.

Last month’s Gazette featured my annual Small Shops of Sonoma County shopping tour where I take you town by town throughout Sonoma County and introduce you to shop owners and their wares. The full version is in the CATEGORY on the right at Small Shops of Sonoma County. It includes towns that didn’t make it to the print edition…the communities of Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Windsor and Petaluma. Over time we’ll even flesh out some of the stores we left out this year because they are worthy of your attention!

The Shopping Tour will eventually make it to it’s own web site – but in the mean time we have links to the web sites of everyone mentioned and contact information for all advertisers.

The following tips are not town-oriented…they are more about objects you can purchase and actions you can take that become valuable gifts.

Park Passes: This is giving the great Outdoors to someone you love that allows them FREE access to local and State parks all year long. It’s enjoyment of nature and fresh air – and – keeps our parks open for all to enjoy. Your purchase of a Pass helps provide funds for trails and facilities, habitat protection and public access. Keep one of these in your wallet and you can park for free at any park in Sonoma County or even California!

Sonoma County Regional Parks:
2300 County Center Drive 120A, Santa Rosa, (707) 565 – 2041,
You can also get a pass at any of the Regional parks where there is a gate keeper – such as Doran Beach Park out on the Coast.

California State Parks: There are two ways to benefit our state parks and give a gift at the same time. One is a proposed statewide ballot measure to try to put the State Park Access Pass on the ballot in November 2010. Go to: to help with this one – then in the mean time – get a Park Pass as a present – for yourself as well as a friend! And of course – they offer Gift Certificates! It’s not as easy as walking into an office in Santa Rosa, but you can e-mail for help or call (415) 262-4400 to find a local state park where you can purchase a pass while out for a stroll on the beach – or whatever!

Gift Certificates: Now this may seem like a lazy way out ,but it’s actually a really good gift. Many people would rather choose their own gift and if you have neither the time nor personal information to get an appropriate gift – this solves the problem. I’m suggesting people get gift certificates to dog groomers for their pets, bottles of wine, dinners, you name it. If a business has a gift certificate available – let the recipient choose their own gift!

Candles: These are small gifts that come in a rainbow of colors, sizes from tiny tea-lites to long beeswax tapers. Some are made of soy and are smokeless – some are molded into shapes and decorated. What they all have in common is that they are both functional as well as decorative. Whether it’s an elegant dinner or light for when the electricity goes out, candles are useful gifts that bring both warmth and soft light. But the best part is that they make a room feel special – like something wonderful is happening. Just be careful and leave them flaming only when you are physically present – and make sure they are set on non-flammable surfaces. Accidents do happen and that tends to take the joy out of the experience!

Chocolates: There are only a few people on this planet who don’t delight in chocolate – not the candy bar kind – but the hand-made truffles, crèmes, etc. that you find in a real chocolate shop. I got so many recommendations for Viva Cocolat in Petaluma that I must send you to this spectacular shop! Jude, my printer sales rep and I enjoy visiting Lynn Wong’s shop when I distribute papers in Petaluma. One day we set our plate with chocolates named after women – just for fun! On a cold day, make sure you try Lynn’s hot cocoa! 110 Petaluma Blvd N - I don’t want to leave anyone out and I know there are many chocolate shops in Sonoma County. I just don’t know them all – but I have tasted David Gambill’s award-winning truffles at Sonoma Chocolatiers in Sebastopol. Superb! These are top-of-the-line taste experiences – but I have to say that a Dove bar fulfills the need when the chocolate urge strikes. No matter what chocolate you buy, just make sure you know a person’s tastes – dark and bitter to light and creamy – these things count to chocolate lovers.

Holiday Tree Ornaments: The wonderful thing about many ornaments is that they are not just for holidays. You can buy Austrian crystals that move to a window after the tree comes down. Tiny brass bells shine on a tree then move to the front door to announce guests. I have friends who love to exchange ornaments over the holidays because it’s the kind of gift that adds up over they years. Each ornament represents another year of friendship that builds history on a decorated tree. At this time of year several shops have displays of vintage ornaments. Right now you can go to the Annex of Legacy in Sebastopol (see their ad) and get vintage ornaments that help finance the Sebastopol Senior Center. Vintage always has charm! And so many of the gift shops around decorate their stores with ornaments that not only bring a festive atmosphere to the shop, but are also items to purchase. Most don’t cost much so you get a meaningful gift with very little cash! One of my favorite stores for this is Rose and Thorn just 3 miles west of Sebastopol along Bodega Hwy. Carole loves to decorate so her store is filled with ornaments most shops don’t; carry. Besides – she’s just a wonderful person and sells an amazing array of small items you can stuff in a stocking. Visit the chickens and goats while you are there!

Wine Glasses & Mugs: These are items that tend to break so people always need them! Believe it or not, one of the best places to get coffee mugs are thrift stores! A good mug can set you back $10 but not in a thrift store – maybe 50¢! Ok – they aren’t stellar quality but they can be quite amusing! For top quality go to a store that sells ceramic mugs and find ones that are small works of art for your hot coffee or soup. I’m especially fond of soup mugs! And wine glasses – talk about breakables! I never knew how important which shaped glass is for what wine until James Haug of Wine Emporium in Sebastopol demonstrated the subtle shift in taste that occur when you drink the same win fro a different glass. Rather impressive! Most of our wine shops have glasses to sell as well as wines, so visit one, taste a bit of we and buy some glasses! A gift for you as well as your friend!

Lunch or Dinner with a Friend: This gift comes in a card so find a good one to “wrap” the gift in. The very best card shops are actually art galleries! Many artists see the value in hand-made cards or reproductions of their art on paper. Find an image that your friend will love to keep and write a note offering time to share and enjoy each other’s company over a meal. Make sure you actually make the date when you exchange the gift because months and sometimes years can go by without this kind of intimate sharing of time and experience. Sonoma County has more opportunities to share a meal than most places and just about everyone of them is exceptional. I’m expecting lunch with Alan very soon to celebrate our anniversary when we had lunch at Cape Fear Café in Duncans Mills and decided to cross over the line from friends to lovers. Precious memories at lunch! Worth repeating!

Time & Experience: There is nothing more valuable in any of our loves than time. We have only so much of it – once we use it it’s gone forever and we never get more. Spending time with anyone is precious. Whether you volunteer your time for a good cause (see our Volunteer calendar) or take the time to be with someone you care about – you’ve just given someone a piece of your life. Shared experiences live in our hearts and minds…sometimes forever. They may not take up much room under a Christmas tree, but they hold more value over the long run than any object.

Whether it’s something you purchase or create, gifts are expression of our love and appreciation for each other. The most important aspect of any gift is that it expresses your knowledge of the recipient. You may feel pressured by time running out by now – but if the gift doesn’t feel special, it’s not worth giving at all. You may just need to write a note and tell someone that you want to go out together to find a gift that they cherish rather than one that fills a box.

Happy Gift-Giving & Receiving!

for a Good Cause

By Vesta Copestakes
There are two reasons we are concentrating on good causes this holiday season – one is simply because our world is being economically challenged, so need is more rampant than in the past. And another is because it’s the time of year when people tend to look beyond their own needs toward the needs of others. That’s a good thing any time of year, but we’ll take advantage of the current generosity of spirit right now.

Our list of readers’ favorite non-profits is a great opportunity to make a donation to a good cause and get a tax deduction in the process. For people who need to give less to the IRS and more to something they believe in, this is a good time.

The following is more a list than a shopping experience, but the bottom line is that you can shop, come out with things you need – even gifts for the holidays, and the money you spend goes to support a homeless shelter, food for the hungry, care for the sick – it goes on and on. Whether you know the good cause or even care which one it is, try shopping at a thrift store and come away with treasures for very little money. The only difference between shopping here and a retailer that has new goods is that these are used. It’s called recycling!!!

Love Your Neighbor Thrift
2150 Bell Dr. off Piner, Santa Rosa, 707-542-0446
This huge warehouse has many rooms, each divided into categories from clothing to china, lots of picture frames – small appliances, a library room and children’s rooms. They provide support services for individuals in great need and who are not taken care of by other organizations – the people who fall through the cracks as they say!

Sutter VNA Thrift Stores – Donation Center & Store
Volunteers sort and sell everything from clothing to furniture, antiques, jewelry, collectibles, etc.
OPEN: Mon – Sat 10am to 5:30 pm
1620 Piner Rd, Santa Rosa - 707-523-1775
510 Lewis St., Santa Rosa 707-528-9310
6350 Commerce Blvd., Rohnert Park 707-588-8015
748 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol 707-824-4712
Provides compassionate care to Hospice patients and their families. Has bereavement support groups, grief counseling and crisis intervention. Provides skilled nursing and therapy to frail elderly.

Assistance League
5 West Sixth St, Santa Rosa, 707-546-9484
Clothing to household items. This is a good place to find high quality work clothes!
All-volunteer foundation provides community projects to serve unmet needs in Sonoma County for children through adults.

Sacks Thrift Stores
116 Fourth Street, Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, 707-541-7227
128 Liberty Street, Petaluma – 707-765-2228
Mon – Saturday 10 to 5 and Sunday 9 – 2
“Upscale Retail” shop specializes in gently used household items, linens, jewelry, furniture, artwork – you name it. Check out their holiday window display. These volunteers make an art form out of donated treasures. Benefits Face to Face, Memorial Hospice & Petaluma Hospice

Pick of the Litter Thrift & Gift
1701-A Piner Rd., Santa Rosa 707-570-2590
Monday- Saturday 10 -5 for donations & shopping
Recycled items help Sonoma County’s feral cat population through spay/neutering and veterinary care. Shop for gently used items in all categories they have a great book section – and you may even find a cat to fall in love with through their adoption program

Welfare League!
126 Fourth St, Railroad Square, Santa Rosa 707-542-7480
Mon – Sat 10 – 4 – Everything you need for home and life under one roof – except food!!
An all-volunteer womens’ organization specializing in serving the needs of families. This unique organization works with parents to provide items they need in a supportive environment from clothing to bike helmets and child safety seats. They work with Catholic Charities, Social Services, Childrens’ Shelter, United Against Sexual Assault and the Police Chaplaincy Program.

Redwood Gospel Mission -
1821 Piner Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 707-528-7285
This vast warehouse has everything from clothes to furniture and toys. They even carry car seats and refrigerators! At one end of the building you purchase items to help the mission and at the other end they are giving away food and support.

3535 Industrial Dr., Santa Rosa 707-545-2492
680 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, 707-570-2392
10000 Lakeville St, Petaluma 707-778-7485
513 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg 707-431-8408
4 Padres Ctr. Parkway, Rohnert Park, 707-585-0300
792 S. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale 707-894-5200
A broad range of items from clothing to furniture and everything in between. Their stores are especially good for men’s items – which is rare! Donations support job training and services for people with disabilities and other employment barriers.

Food for Thought Antiques &
2701 Gravenstein Hwy. South, Sebastopol, 707-823-3101
Open 11 to 5 daily
Mostly volunteer operated – FFT, along with 10 vendors, run this large shop filled with treasures of all kinds both old and used from rolls of fabrics and shelves of books to wrought iron fencing in the garden section. They specialize in estate liquidations so the items fall under a broad spectrum from antiques to just old stuff! FFT operates a food bank that serves people with HIV/AIDS .

The Legacy
781 Gravenstein Hwy So, Sebastopol 707-823-7520
This shop specializes in sewing, knitting and crochet supplies – for the most part! Now for the holidays they also have the Annex next door that is selling vintage holiday decorations! All proceeds support the Sebastopol senior Center. His is a treasure house for crafters!

If you know any more, please e-mail me at and I’ll add them to this list!

Good Causes
Who Could use Some Help!
Maybe you need an end-of-year tax deduction, or you have spare time and are looking for something to do. If either of these apply to you, our readers have suggestions! We’re putting these up on our web site so if you’d like to add your own - e-mail them to and we’ll add them to our list.

Habitat for Humanity: ReStore
The Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County ReStore needs your donations of doors, windows, cabinets and working appliances (7 years or less). Nearly any building or remodeling material in good shape can be recycled through ReStore, saving you dumping costs and providing a tax deduction as well. More importantly, your donations will go back into the community to help people who are upgrading their homes.

By recycling your old car through the Humanity’s Cars for Homes car donation program, you help save energy and natural resources with the added benefit of supporting the effort to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness within your community.

All operating profits from ReStore sales go into Habitat’s building programs. Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County is working to provide affordable housing for all Sonoma County families.

Contact Info:
(707)568-3228 to schedule a drop-off, a pick-up
24 10th Street in Santa Rosa
Tue 10am-4pm; Wed, Thu, Fr 9am-5pm; Sat 9am-4pm

Forgotten Felines
Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County is dedicated to protecting and improving the lives of feral cats through local spay/neuter programs, placement services, community outreach and nationwide education. They offer low-cost spay/neuter services for feral and tame stray cats. They operate solely on private donations and not funded by any city or county funds, income is received primarily through the Pick of the Litter Thrift & Gift, located at 1701 Piner Rd in Santa Rosa. Visit for information on adoptable cats, volunteer opportunities, and a wish list of items they are in need of.

Contact Info:
Forgotten Felines:
Adoption Facility located inside the Rohnert Park Adoption Facility
301 J. Rogers Lane. Rohnert Park
PO Box 6672
Santa Rosa, CA 95406

Pick of the Litter Thrift & Gift:
Pick of the Litter gratefully accepts merchandise donations between 9:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday at our donation door.
1701-A Piner Rd., Santa Rosa

SAY - Social Advocates for Youth believes that it takes a village to raise a child. That is why they are building the village that Sonoma County youth deserve. SAY is a community leader in providing support, opportunities, and hope to children, youth and families.

The Coffee House Teen Shelter is the only 24/7 emergency youth shelter in Sonoma County. It provides safe, short-term housing, food, clothing, and counseling for runaway and homeless teens age 12/17, and for families needing a safe harbor for their teens during times of crisis. The Drop-In center serves three hot meals a day. Crisis intervention, counseling, and family reunification services are available.

The Tamayo House is a supportive housing program for former foster care recipients, as well as street youth, and youth living with serious mental disorders. Residents 18-24 years old achieve successful autonomy and independence through a range of housing, education, and case management services.

How to Help:
Donate money on their secure website
Volunteer – become a mentor, help at the Coffee House, help plan an event
Donate items such as cars, furniture, clothing, etc.

Contact Info:
Coffee House
1243 Ripley St., Santa Rosa
Street Outreach Program: 707-522-2263
Tamayo House
1700 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa

Ceres Community Project
The Ceres Project provides organic, local and nutrient-dense meals to individuals and families who are dealing with serious illness. Their goal is to restore food to its place as primary medicine for healing and healthy communities by training young people how to cook and eat organic, and educating all sectors of our community about the relationship between what we eat and the health of our bodies.

On Jan 9th, the Ceres Community Project presents Back to Basics with Healing Broths. Taught by Nutrition Director JoEllen DeNicola, the course offers hands-on experience preparing Ceres’ healing Immune Broth and bone broths. The class takes place at Capers and Co., 330 Main St in Sebastopol, from 9-11 am. Visit or call 707-829-5833 x3 for more information or to register for the class. Event fee is $30.

How to Help:
Purchase Ceres’ new cookbook, Nourishing Connections: the Healing Power of Food and Community, online at or at Copperfield’s Bookstore in Sebastopol.
Volunteer by harvesting produce and picking up donations, preparing meals and delivering them to our clients, tabling at the farmer’s market, helping with office work, and meeting with and supporting clients.

Financial donations can be made through PayPal, mailing a check, or by phone with credit card.
Purchase their food products online and pick them up at 330 S. Main Street in Sebastopol Tue-Thurs.

Contact Info:
330 S. Main Street
PO Box 1562
Sebastopol CA 95472

Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
The Sisters are a 21st Century order of nuns. Their mission is to spread joy and goodwill through charitable acts and fundraising, with consideration of the special needs of the Russian River area. They host monthly Bingo Tournaments to raise money for various organizations within our community that are in need. “We believe in creating a hate-free zone in our community by reaching out to all peoples regardless of sex, religion, sexual orientation and political beliefs.”

How to Help:
Attend a monthly bingo charity event, the second Saturday of every month at the Odd Fellows Hall in Guerneville at 7pm, but arrive early. Cards are $15 each or 2 for $20 and all proceeds benefit a different organization each month.

Become an RR sister and attend their General meetings held the 3th Thursday of each month. For more info & meeting location email

Donate funds online at through their PayPal account and designate which charity you would like the donation to benefit.

Contact Info:
Russian River Sisters, Inc.
Post Office Box 771
Guerneville, CA 95446

West County Health Centers
West County Health Centers provides comprehensive primary medical care, dental services, mental health services, and confidential teen services at five sites throughout western Sonoma County. Medical services are available to all members of the community including those with Medicare, Medi-Cal, CMSP and most major insurances. For those who are uninsured, they offer a sliding scale and programs that provide free services.

Make a donation in a loved one’s name to West County Health Centers and give the gift of health care to your community. Your donation to West County Health Centers enables our professional staff to deliver the right care to anyone in need... regardless of their financial means. Visit to make a secure online donation.

Contact Info:
(707) 869-2849 16319, 3rd Street
P.O. Box 226
Guerneville, CA 95446

Russian River Watershed Protection Committee
The Russian River Watershed Protection Committee is dedicated to the care and preservation of our beautiful Russian River. Primarily through the tireless work of Director, Brenda Adelman, they strive to educate and inform their members about the seemingly endless threats to this beautiful natural resource.

How to Help:
Mail your donation check to:
P.O. Box 501
Guerneville, CA 95446
Make a secure online donation at

Contact Info:
P.O. Box 501
Guerneville, CA 95446

Climate Protection Campaign
Their mission is to create a positive future for our children and all life by inspiring action in response to the climate crisis. CPC advance practical, science-based solutions for achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions.

How to Help:
Mail donation check to:
P.O. Box 3785
Santa Rosa CA 95404
Call 707-525-1665 to make donation over-the-phone
Donate online by credit card at

Contact Info:
P.O. Box 3785
900 College Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95404
Ann Hancock, Executive Director

Sonoma County Animal Shelter
The Sonoma County Animal Shelter is committed to serving the public in the care and well-being of animals, both domestic and livestock, throughout the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County, the City of Santa Rosa, and the Town of Windsor. Visit for information on adoptable animals and volunteer opportunities.

For those unable to adopt at this time but wishing to make a difference in the lives of shelter animals throughout the year, SCACC is now accepting tax-deductible donations. Contributions payable to “Sonoma County Animal Care and Control” can be made in person or via mail at the address below.

Contact Info:
Sonoma County Animal Shelter:
1247 Century Court
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Hours:Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.;
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.; and Saturday 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

We can add to this list at any time - so please send us your suggestions:

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