The spirit of giving has been alive and well during this holiday season in the East San Gabriel Valley.
The second of two Sowing Seeds for Life toy and food giveaways this month will be held Wednesday, Dec. 21, from 3-5 p.m. at the DPI Labs parking lot at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne. The first one was held Dec. 3 at Ganesha Park in Pomona.
If Wednesday’s Sowing Seeds for Life event is anywhere close to the earlier one, it is something you’ll want to be a part of. Even if you and your family are not struggling, you can still participate as a donor, a volunteer or a sponsor. All that is required is a healthy spirit of giving.
The Dec. 3 giveaway was the fourth annual Sowing Seeds for Life “Christmas in the Park” – and what an event it was.
More than 3,000 people participated, with 2,042 signing up to receive non-perishable food items. Also, 406 toys were passed out to children. And some of the best musicians in the area provided entertainment arranged by jazz radio station KTST (79.5 FM). Performers included the B-Keyss and vocalist Britney Young, the daughter of Sowing Seeds for Life volunteer Paulette Young. Also drawing lots of attention were performances the Pacesetters drill team and drum corps and the Rancho Dominators drill team.
It was all made possible by Glendora “Wonder Woman” Vicki Brown, founder and CEO of Sowing Seeds for Life, or SSFL, a charitable non-profit organization that feeds some 6,000 people in need per month.
But Brown said some 150 volunteers, plus a long list of donors and sponsors are the ones who made the event so successful.
Damien High School played a major role, donating $500 and raising another $350. Also, students Jacky Yao, Jason Haney and Keith Waldron, along with the varsity football team, spearheaded a toy drive that brought in some 350 toys.
Cornucopia Foods, a division of Fairplex, contributed various items such as ice and forklifts and provided parking volunteers. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank donated food that was given away and John and Will Fueling, owners of the Corner Butcher Shop at 2359 Foothill, donated hot dogs that were sold. The Von’s market at Foothill and Wheeler in La Verne collected bags of groceries.
Lee Kum Kee, maker of Chinese sauces, contributed two pallets of various products. Arrowhead contributed water. The Zendejas Mexican restaurant in San Dimas and El Merendero of La Verne and Pomona donated chips. Costco and Sam’s Club also made contributions. Waste Management and United Site Services donated porta-potties. Valley Vista Services donated a roll-off trash bin.
The City of Pomona got involved and Pomona Mayor Elliott Rothman attended the event. Molly the Clown donated her time to entertain children. Haney & Associates of Glendora and Julie and Graham Bell of Claremont made cash donations.
The list goes on and on. Brown in particular praised Christine Chau, a sales representative for Lee Kum Kee who lives in West Covina and donated hand-knitted teddy bears, hats and other items.
“I knit, sew and quilt at my leisure and have always wanted to help people in need with the items I make,” Chau said. “I have been making blankets for homeless animals and people. Last year I donated handmade teddy bears to a school with lower income kids for them to make funds to buy new chairs for their graduation ceremony. Two years ago during Christmas time I raised over $1,000 for Smile Train by selling handmade tote bags and teddies.”
“What she did for Sowing Seeds is amazing,” said Brown, who is pretty amazing herself.
As if organizing two major charity events in one month isn’t enough, Brown is also the CEO and president of DPI Labs, a multimillion-dollar aerospace company in La Verne.
DPI also is the site of the SSFL food bank that hands out needed goods the first and third Wednesday of every month. SSFL, which also has several satellite pantries at various locations and locations throughout the month, gives award about a million pounds of food per year.
SSFL has grown from a small garden project in 2007 into one of the East San Gabriel Valley’s most significant charities. Brown was given $100 by her church to use for good works, so she planted some seeds in order to grow produce to donate to families in a mobile home park.
Brown recently was named this year’s winner of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank’s Tony Collier Award for her dedicated commitment in the fight against hunger.
The “Christmas in the Park” event is evidence about how far SSFL has come in such a short time. To get the kind of turnout it did, and to see all the happy faces, was simply amazing.
Rebecca Rosenberger of Pomona brought her two grandchildren, Jasiyah and Jediah Rosales, ages 3 and 1, and loved every minute of it.
Rosenberger said she learned of SSFL through her 92-year-old mother, Geneva Hite, a resident at Emerson Village, an apartment complex for seniors in Pomona.
“I came last year too,” Rosenberger said. “This is a great event. I love it. It’s amazing how giving some people can be.”
The charity also operates a community farm at Falcon Ranch, a 45-acre spread owned by John Defalco in the foothills of San Dimas Canyon.
A major fundraiser for the organization has become its annual celebrity golf tournament. The first three were held at Sierra La Verne County Club. The fourth is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, at Glendora County Club.
The last two years, the golf tournament has drawn some of the biggest names in sports, including Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, Bill Sharman, Jim Harrick, Dodger legends Bill Russell, Tommy Davis and Al Downing, and legendary horse racing announcer Trevor Denman.
Through her organization, Vicki Brown has generously given of her time, talents and finances to help form a better life for many families in need and also help various area communities as well. She has set an example for all of us to follow.
(For further information or to make a donation, call DPI Labs at 909 392-5777.)