Donation Day  to be celebrated, rain or shine |

Donation Day  to be celebrated, rain or shine

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union


What: 129th annual Donation Day

When: Donations accepted beginning at 8 a.m. today, parade begins at 10 a.m.

Where: Multi-purpose room at Grass Valley Charter School, 225 South Auburn St., Grass Valley

Friday morning’s 129th annual Donation Day will continue to show the Grass Valley community’s value of giving, regardless of the weather.

“What we’re trying to do is teach children about giving, thinking about others and what other people might need,” said Robyn Ettl, nurse for the Grass Valley School District.

The event begins in the multipurpose room at Grass Valley Charter School, 225 S. Auburn St., Grass Valley, the former Hennessy Elementary School campus. Food boxes will be set up at 8 a.m. in the multipurpose room and the parade, weather permitting, will begin at 10 a.m.

One-hundred-fifty families receive three to four boxes that contain items purchased
with Ladies Relief Society donation money, including meat certificates from SPD and Safeway, as well as other donated items.

“Over the years, we have been given money that we take care of and every year we supplement the donations and work with other Nevada County nonprofits to identify families,” said Ladies Relief member Peggy Levine.

Even if today’s parade is canceled due to rain, the Ladies Relief Society will still collect canned food from participating schools.

“We collect the cans and have some decorated boxes and somebody from Ladies Relief Society will pick them up and take them to Grass Valley Charter site and they, rain or shine, have the event in the multipurpose room. It’s amazing,” said Deb Plate, principal of Bell Hill Academy.

If it rains, the Ladies Relief Society will continue to work in the multipurpose room and families will pick up the boxes there.

“If it doesn’t happen, we continue to work at (Grass Valley Charter) and the kids at the school do a little parade through the building, just a little symbolic thing,” said Levine.

If the parade does take place, participants will walk down South Auburn Street from the Grass Valley Charter campus, turn left at Neal Street, right on Mill Street, right at Main Street and back down South Auburn to the school.

In past years, the parade involved students, teachers, and musicians from local schools and the community, which may not be possible this year due to rain.

“Usually we have a bagpiper, color guard from Marine Corps, and several schools march in the parade,” Levine said. “Union Hill is sending two second-grade classes and two of the kids are going to be the banner bearers.

“Lyman Gilmore band marches and some of the students from Nevada Union (FFA). It’s just that we coordinate with organizations like that so, between all of us — the food bank, all of that — we can reach out to most families in need.”

The schools involved include Grass Valley Charter, Bell Hill Academy, Lyman Gilmore, Margaret G. Scotten, Deer Creek and Union Hill. Alta Sierra Elementary donates food, but does not participate in the parade.

“We love it and the children love participating,” said Bell Hill Academy’s Plate. “They love the idea of it and they understand they are giving to somebody who may need it.”

Donation Day began in 1883 after Ladies Relief Society member Caroline Mead Hanson came up with the idea for children to help the unemployed after the community’s gold mines were closed.

“Caroline Mead Hanson thought ‘the kids get Christmas presents, but it’s nice for them to understand that some people don’t, and that they can give back,’” Levine said.

Ettl said she helps send out notes to teachers who might know a family in need, which are eventually forwarded to the Ladies Relief Society.

“The schools really support the kids going beyond not just academics, but learning to be involved in the community and what that’s all about,” Ettl said, “and learning what they can do to help.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call (530) 477-4230.

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