Storms can’t stop Donation Day giving |

Storms can’t stop Donation Day giving

John HartStudents of Hennessy School march in the hallways, rather than outside, for Donation Day Friday due to the stormy weather.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The 114-year-old parade was rained out, but the 119-year-old tradition of schoolchildren bringing food to school for needy families held fast Friday morning.

The Grass Valley Ladies Relief Society had to let the Grass Valley Public Works Department know by 7:30 a.m. whether hundreds of schoolchildren would be making a loop through downtown Grass Valley for the annual Donation Day parade, Wendy Weiss, coordinator of the event, said.

For the first time in about four decades, the parade of schoolchildren marching up to Mill Street was canceled. Instead, they marched through the wide hallways of Hennessy School.

But not before about 50 volunteers worked feverishly and methodically to fill 153 boxes of food for families. Students from Nevada Union High School and Lyman Gilmore, Scotten, Union Hill, Gold Run, Clear Creek, Pleasant Ridge, Mount Saint Mary’s, and Sierra Christian Presbyterian schools brought in canned food.

Dwight Weiss, Wendy’s brother-in-law, worked with other volunteers to sort apples from the Bierwagen orchards into bags – a colorful assortment of Arkansas Blacks, Pink Lady and Empire.

“We start on the potatoes next,” Dwight Weiss said. He marched in the parade when he was student at Hennessy “back in the early sixties.”

Hugh Gordon pushed a shopping cart full of packages of egg noodles down the aisles, making sure each box got one, and “two for boxes for large families” of six or more, he said.

Two Sacramento television stations sent personnel to cover the event, originally designed to bring “a stick and a potato” to the families suffering from closed mines in the late 1800s.

“We usually get either Channel 3 or News 10,” said Principal Margaret Eli. “But not both.”

This was much to the delight of the children, some of whom were interviewed by a television reporter on their way out.

“I’m going to be on News 10!” exclaimed Kevin Wink, a student in Mrs. Mapes’ third-grade class.

The TV reporter also interviewed a Relief Society volunteer about the origins of the event.

“Hi, Mom!” third-grader Chris Wade shouted into the television microphone behind her.

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