Yup…we end our
Christmas Holiday Parade with Santa. Not some fat lady singing an operetta. AND in 2 short weeks he’ll be cruising the streets of “M” town with escorts rolling code up and down every street and cul de sac in town. It’s Merry Christmas in my ‘hood.
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Yup…we end our
Bah humbug to Black Friday, Small Biz Saturday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday is where its at. Its the true fulfillment of the holiday dream. Giving back to your community and those less fortunate. It started with a whimper last year, but this year its getting promo’d to the nth degree by the big guys like Facebook.
There are multiple ways to help the many local charities and non-profits in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
First up…good old cash. Cold hard cash fills their coiffers and ensures that they have operating capital to cover their overhead and fund programs. Its usually tax deductible if they’re a 503(c) non-profit. Also check with your employer, they often match cash contributions which is a nice way toy double down your good deed.
Volunteer “in kind” gifts. Socks for the homeless, food for the hungry drives will take those donations. If you buy new for the cause save your receipts as those too are tax deductible.
Donate your time to them. EVen some employers will make a cash donation for your time donated to a qualifying non-profit. As an example a friend at the Gas company helped out the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts at this fall’s Celebrate the Arts and ChalkFest. The Gas company made a cash donation for the 16 hours she donated at the rate of $10/hour.
Check with your local food kitchens. They need help putting out meals daily, not just for the holiday. Check what they need and if your skill set fits jump in and help them prep, cook, serve or bus tables.
The point is, give back to your community and make lives a little better. There are so many options and ways to help you can’t go wrong for trying.
Last night was the sneak preview blogathon at the Sierra Madre Playhouse for “A Christmas Memory” based on a short story by Truman Capote. This is a musical with live musicians, not canned sound tracks.
I was captured from the get go with this play. The performances by the cast were engaging and brought the story to life. To avoid spoilers I’ll not give away too much of the plot or story line. The setting is a man’s boyhood home and sequences between the now and his boyhood spent in rural Alabama raised by cousins in the depression. The story is about a man returning “home” after being gone a long time for the funeral of a cousin who raised him. Its an interesting story of familial love and bonding, with adventures and making fruitcake.
The latter is central to the story and the song “Fruitcake Weather” is lively and just adds to the story line. Young Buddy (Ian Branch) and Sook (Diane Kelber) have a bond that is magical and plays out well on stage.
The music gets a big round of applause, but one of the best sequences in the production is when the cast breaks out the ukelele’s and busts out into song. Fun, well done and did I mention fun?
To read more about the cast and production team visit their website HERE. The Sierra Madre Playhouse has another hit on its hands here. The play has already sold out for Friday and Saturday night its opening weekend. You can still get tickets for Sunday and the remaining dates (the play closes December 27) via the Playhouse HERE.
Deets Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA
More pics from the blogathon in the a flickr album
Fruitcake that ubiquitous bundle of fruit and nuts, sometimes soaked in booze that you either abhor or adore. I fall into the latter and think this Friday’s Fruitcake tasting party at the Vroman’s book store in the Hastings Ranch shopping center looks to be a ton of fun. The tasting is a joint venture with the Sierra Madre Playhouse who is opening its holiday play “A Christmas Memory” based on a short story but Truman Capote next week. ‘
There are planned to be over a dozen fruit cakes at this event. They are sourced from bakers all over the country as well as the Los Angeles Area. A sampling…
- Sumi Chang and Europane Bakery, Pasadena
- Karen Hansen and Copenhagen Pastry, Pasadena
- Mike McLellan and Patticakes Desserts, Altadena,
Deets: Friday 11/20 6PM Vroman’s 3729 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107
If you’re interested in seeing A Christmas Memory you can order tickets HERE. The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located at 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre.
Do you watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day? (That’s tomorrow, FYI.) Have you wondered what those floats look like up close but have no desire to spend the night in freezing temperatures? (It’s going to get into the mid-30s tonight, that is close enough to freezing for me.) You can! It’s become a custom to view the parked floats for a few days after the parade. This year you can view them tomorrow (Jan. 1), Friday and Saturday (Jan. 2-3). It will cost you $10 per person and the money goes to the Tournament of Roses Foundation. For that entry fee, you can walk all along the floats (but no touching, please) and even talk with white jacketed volunteers who will tell you more about them.
The floats are viewable:
January 1: 1:00 – 5:00PM
January 2: 9:00 – 5:00PM
January 3: 9:00 – 5:00PM
Senior citizens and disabled persons are welcome from 7:00 – 9:00am both days for less crowded viewing.
You can buy tickets online here or you can buy tickets on-site until 3pm each day.
UPDATE: You can only buy tickets online if you plan to pick them up by 5pm TODAY at the ticketing office (See link). Otherwise, you must buy them on site.
Also, there is a Park and Ride Shuttle ($3 for those 6 years old and above) to ease in the parking situation as street parking nearby is limited.
I plan on getting there early on Saturday in warm cozy clothes.
Happy New Year!
During the “12 Days of Giving” series here highlighting various awesome and local organizations that deserve your considerations and donations, I wrote about a 137-year-old institution near and dear to my heart (and my bank balance seeing as I work there): the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).
In that post, I talked about the ginormous difference between spcaLA and the ASPCA (whose heart-wrenching ads are all over the end-of-year airwaves), and at the end I threw in a twist by promising to donate to spcaLA the spare change my wife and I have collected in that half-gallon jug pictured at left (click to biggify) over the last five or so years, and also to donate it in honor of whoever came closest to the amount all that coinage added up to.
I was actually surprised I didn’t get a few more stabs at the amount, but I’m nevertheless thankful to have received the following guesses in the comments to that post:
- Frazgo: $72.96
- JozJozJoz: $89.27
- LucindaMichele: $82.50
- Jodi Kurland: $65.37
- Alexandra Apollini: $89.23
- BikingInLA: $97.13
- DavidDavidDavidDavidDavid: $87.84
After the jump, find out what it took to get the coins counted, who the honoree is and how totally far off from the actual amount they all were…
This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart. It isn’t always about monetary donations for these groups. Tight on funds? They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well. When it’s all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out. And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah, or Pagan rituals?
Speaking of “giving of yourself” why not literally give of yourself? Blood banks always need blood, not just in times of crisis. If you meet the requirements, you can donate a pint of your blood in about an hour. Easey peasey, stress-ball squeezey! No matter your blood type, blood banks need it. Are you Type O, the Universal Donor? Great, that means more people in the city need your blood. Are you a rare type – AB? Great, they need you too.
My favorite donation place is the UCLA Blood and Platelets Center. The staff is friendly, the place is clean and bright and they do all they can to make it easy and fun to donate. They have assigned parking spots just for donors right by their door in Westwood. And even if those spots are taken, they give you free parking in the nearby lot. They always have raffles and free gifts. I got a beach towel and a UCLA T-shirt from my last two visits. And those bonus gifts were on top of the free movie tickets you get for donating. Oh and the great selection of juice and cookies after! From start to finish (checking in, paperwork, getting your vitals checked, donating blood, juice/cookies) it takes about an hour. The actual donation part? about 10 minutes.
There are many places to donate in LA, just google it. Children’s Hospital LA has a donation center. The Red Cross has many donation centers in SoCal and hey! They are giving away red, long sleeved t-shirts if you donate between 12/24 and January 4.
It is true what they say, the more you give, the more you get. Please donate blood. It might cost an hour of your time every three months and the benefits to your community and your heart are huge.
Preamble/Disclosure: There’s a subset of the fine folks who know I’ve been a scrivener for Blogging.la going way back to March 2004, who also know that back in 2011, despite all appearances of sanity, sensibility and advanced middle age, I committed to making a rather drastic career change in leaving behind a 20-odd year (emphasis on the word “odd’) career in journalism to become a humane law enforcement officer, more commonly known as an “animal cop.” Soon after that decision, I undertook what would become a lengthy, arduous and challenging process of training and preparation and hiring — I call it a “journey of a thousand hurdles” — that culminated this past summer when I was sworn in as a Level 1 Humane Officer working for, you guessed it: the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).
But enough about me. More importantly, I need to clear up an important misconception. You know those heart-wrenching ads that inundate your TV screens around this time of year, soundtracked by Sarah McG’s “Angel” and featuring some celeb (last year it was the guy from “Will & Grace”) guilting the hell out of you to donate NOWRIGHTNOW while a slideshow of horribly mistreated animals scrolls by? Yeah: that’s soooooo not spcaLA. That’s a whole different animal: That’s ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But Will, you ask, isn’t ASPCA the “parent” of spcaLA? Great question! Answer: Not in any way, shape or form. They are entirely individual and separate entities. It’s a common mistake people make believing that ASPCA is some sort of national umbrella under which all SPCAs in the country operate. But they don’t. Each and every SPCA is its own independent organization. The same goes with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They have absolutely nothing to do with, say, the Pasadena Humane Society.
But Will, you ask, why should that matter to me? Another valid query! As an Angeleno it should matter to you because at the end of one of those above-mentioned ASPCA ads that will be dominating the local year-end airwaves, when you rush to your computer or telephone, whip out your credit card and ship some money to their headquarters across the country in New York City, not a penny of it will benefit any of the animals in your own neighborhoods. Think of it like donating blood to your local hospital versus the American Red Cross. In both worthy cases, the precious resource will almost certainly go to someone who needs it, but the chances are exponentially greater that the blood you gave at, say, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will go to a child at that hospital. Donate locally, I say… which rhymes with spcaLA!
After the jump, a bit of history before we get to the fun part.
2014 has been a great year for my family. It wasn’t always like this. We’ve had some pretty lean years in the past but hard work, faith, and determination put us on a blessed path. There are plenty of places in the world where, no matter how hard citizens try, those qualities still don’t offer up a dream life. This year, I felt it was important to give back to the universe that has created joy and plenty in my life but still finds so many people suffering around the world. My husband and I both come from from traditions of charitable giving and volunteership. No matter how impoverished we’ve been, we could always put food on the table and our parents taught us that meant we were still fortunate and it was our duty to offer assistance to those without.
So our regular checks to charitable organizations weren’t good enough this year. A stellar year means we’d have to reach a little deeper. But I’m lazy and volunteering with an infant while my husband is working overseas is more difficult than I can manage. Instead, I found a great way to give while doing my regular weekly shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market. The Whole 9 Gallery had a booth I could not avoid. So many cute and cool things to buy! And what’s this?? The money spent helps to support their charity The Peace Project?? Perfect! Holiday shopping AND charitable giving, combined! I bought more gifts than I had people to give to just so I could throw more money at a worthy cause. And all of it was reasonably priced and very well made and unique.
The Peace Project is an effort by The Whole 9 online creative community to transform lives globally. Started in 2010 by the community’s founder, the project has distributed crutches to amputees and victims of civil war in Sierra Leone, sponsored educational grants for African school-age children, built houses for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines, and been the benefactor for several artists on six continents. Through their works, they’ve used art to bridge the gap between necessary resources and the community members who desperately require them. The Whole 9 Gallery in Culver City sells the wares for several artists whose proceeds fund these works abroad.
To learn more about The Peace Project or to donate directly, visit http://thepeaceproject.com/donate.php. Just want some last minute gifts that will fund the future happiness of others in our world? Check out The Whole 9 Gallery at 3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232.
I braved not one but TWO crowds today. First up… The Echo Park Holiday Parade!!! I had high hopes for this because I’d heard a bunch of Krampus revelers were going to be there and I was not disappointed. If you’re one of the uninitiated, “Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved… Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children and drag them off into the black forest.” (wiki)
Krampus was made popular a couple years ago by a viral video of hairy-costumed nightmares rampaging through a northern Italian mountain community and beating the ever-loving crap out of passersby. I needed the little one to see this so she’d be on her best behavior for the next couple weeks. But unlike Italy where it is apparently legal to beat innocent tourists, it’s frowned upon here, especially for 6 month olds. That’s probably for the best.
There were other parade participants but I honestly can’t remember who they were after seeing the Krampus steam engine car built by Bay Area artist-engineer Kimeric Smythe. Also several members of the Salzburg-area Alt Gnigler Krampus and Perchten Troupe joined the parade of domestic brand Krampus… Krampuses? Krampen? Krampai? Whatever. It was a hoot.
As if seeing Krampus in Echo Park wasn’t enough, I dragged the kid downtown to Grand Park for the Renegade Craft Fair. It’s one of my favorites. Although I had nothing to buy this time (poor wallet…), I got to see some new friends like the ladies at Ave Dee. I bought a fanny pack from them at the Patchwork Show in Long Beach and it’s been my saving grace on short outings with the kid. Contrary to what movies tell you, you do not need to travel everywhere with a full diaper bag breaking your back. Sometimes you just need your wallet, cell phone, car keys, and an emergency pacifier. Maybe some chapstick. Ave Dee’s fanny packs are the perfect hands-free device for busy mommas like me. And they’re cool! Anyone who says fanny packs are lame are probably pretty lame themselves. And I guarantee you they’re carrying around way too much crap.
I also stopped in on good friends and former roommates extraordinare from Outlaw Soaps, Russ & Danielle Vincent. These amazing villians started their business in our house just a couple years ago and look at them now! Masters of saponification. Lauded by the mighty Oprah herself, even. I highly recommend you jump on their bandwagon, stat; they’re moving their productions from Oakland to a little parcel of land just southeast of Lake Tahoe and they’ve quit soap making until the new digs are up and running in January. When I saw them today, they had very little stock left. That’s what happens when your goods are being bought for wholesale by the likes of national retailers like Urban Outfitters and ThinkGeek! I’m so proud of them, I could scream.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you love Los Angeles native, See’s Candies! They are putting up pop-up holiday shops around town so you don’t have to brave the mall when you get invited somewhere last minute and don’t want to arrive with your hands hanging. They are selling only boxed chocolates, no candy counter full of individual yummies to mix and match. But when Aunt Gertrude is stopping by and you’ve accidentally left her off your list, you can race in for that two pound box of dark chocolate nuts and chews she loves so much.
Check locations here.
And there are two more days to enter into the See’s Candies For Life contest!
My personal favorite – Scotchmallows.