Donation Day parade returns to downtown Grass Valley for 136th year |

Donation Day parade returns to downtown Grass Valley for 136th year


What: 136th Donation Day Parade

Who: The Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society and Grass Valley School District

When: 10 a.m. Friday

Where: Downtown Grass Valley


Year after year, Nevada County citizens come together to participate in the Donation Day Parade, an event dedicated to providing families with food and community support.

Children from the Grass Valley School District march through the streets of downtown Grass Valley to bring awareness and collect donations.

The Ladies Relief Society was founded in 1873, collecting donations and delivering baskets of food to their neighbors in need. Ten years later, they were presented with the idea of Donation Day, where families could send donations into schools with their children.

This tradition began in 1883, when Grass Valley resident Caroline Meade Hansen looked out her window to see children walking to school and the idea for a “Donation Day” came to her as an epiphany. She promptly wrote to the Ladies Relief Society and the letter was published in late November in The Union.

“The donation from each child is so small there is hardly any family who could not afford to give it,” Hansen wrote, “but as there are several hundred children attending school, the aggregate might be of some value.”

The Grass Valley Daily Union, as it was known at the time, followed with a story to encourage the community to embrace the idea.

“Donation Day,” the bold headline read. “To-morrow having been selected as Donation Day, each pupil of the Public Schools who wishes to contribute to the happiness of the poor, during the holidays, is requested to bring their respective schools a potato and a stick of wood, on the day above mentioned, the same to be given to the Ladies Relief Society, for distribution among the needy.”

Since then, the day has been an annual event.

Donation boxes are placed in schools weeks before, so that families have time to make their contributions. With the end of the semester, students and staff will meet at Grass Valley Charter school and march together in the streets.

The Lyman Gilmore school band is set to play, and other participants will carry banners and cans. This year, rain might interfere with the parade. However, locals are still encouraged to come to the schools to make their donations. The boxes are collected by the Ladies Relief Society and distributed to citizens of Nevada County.

Anjali Figueira-Santos is a Forest Charter School student and intern at The Union. Contact her at

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