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May 27th
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’Tis the Season

news_food-driveLocal orgs and causes to give to this holiday season
Santa Cruz Public Libraries
Needy Animals
Second Harvest Food Bank
The Walnut Avenue Women's Center
Brown Berets Toy Drive

If you’re stumped on what to get that special (or not-so-special) someone, or are just feeling particularly generous this holiday season, perhaps the answer is in lending your support to one of the many local organizations and causes that are in need of a little holiday cheer. Here are a few such ideas; now, let the real giving get going!


Santa Cruz Public Libraries: Our libraries have been hit particularly hard by budget cuts over the last two years, so what better way to show your support than to help them stay stocked? Santa Cruz Public Libraries has a holiday wish list of 16 books that will help them refurbish their “book discussion kits.” Visit one of the three participating local independent bookstores to buy the desired titles or to purchase gift cards for the library: Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz; Bookworks, 110 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos; or Capitola Book Café, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola.

 


Needy Animals: The Santa Cruz SPCA has teamed up with Valley Churches United for the 16th Annual Holiday Pet Project, which aims to help financially strapped families and seniors provide for their furry friends during the holidays. Through Dec. 18, animal food, toys, collars, leashes and identification tags can be dropped at the following barrel locations: Pet Pals, 3660 Soquel Dr., Soquel; Scotts Valley Feed, 5470 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley; General Feed and Seed, 1900 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz; Aptos Feed and Pet Supply, 7765 Soquel Dr., Aptos; and Bed and Biscuits, 2341 17th Ave., Santa Cruz. Visit santacruzspca.org for more information.

Or, if you’d like to support the SPCA in their mission to fight animal cruelty and pet overpopulation, you can take your pet for a $15 portrait at Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton. Proceeds from the “Santa Paws Holiday Portraits” will benefit the SPCA. Event dates are Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 465-5000 for more information.


Second Harvest Food Bank: With 11 percent of county adults unemployed (23 percent in Watsonville), and one in four local children in need of food assistance, giving the gift of sustenance makes a lot of sense this year. Second Harvest Food Bank is the largest food assistance organization in the region, and the demand for their aid has grown consistently in recent years: they served 48,612 people in 2009, up from 36,707 in 2005. Although the food bank gladly accepts food donations, the best kind of contribution is monetary. They have the means to stretch every dollar donated into four healthy meals. To learn about their Holiday Food Drive or to donate, visit thefoodbank.org.


The Walnut Avenue Women's Center’s Adopt-A-Family Program: This inspiring program matches families in need with individuals, local businesses or community groups who “adopt” them for the holidays. There are several ways to participate in Adopt-A-Family, including adopting an entire family, donating gift cards or making a monetary contribution to the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. Visit wawc.org for more information. Donations are requested before Dec. 13.


Brown Berets Toy Drive: Visit brownberets.info for details on how to donate to the Watsonville Brown Beret’s annual holiday toy drive.

Other gift-giving tips:
Think local. For every $100 spent locally, $45 stays in the community. Compare that to the $13 that stays in the community when $100 is spent at a big box store. For any item you’re looking to buy, there is surely a local option. Visit thinklocalsantacruz.org for more information about buying local.

Research that toy. The California Public Interest and Research Group (CALPIRG) recently announced the release of the 2010 Toy Safety Report, which details the many dangers hiding in children’s toys. If you aren’t sure where or how a toy was made, a good bet it to pass on purchasing it, but you can also take a look at the CALPIRG report to get informed on this year’s largest toy safety problems at uspirg.org.

Keep the giving going--please post any ideas you have for community donations this holiday season in the comments section below.

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As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.
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