The Harker community pulled together last week to help those affected by the fires in the North Bay, and had the surprise help of an alumna working in disaster relief.
Following the cancellation of the Harker Family & Alumni Picnic in mid-October, the school decided to donate picnic ticket sales receipts to relief efforts in Sonoma County. It was a welcome surprise to find that one of the organizers helping direct donations, Carol Beattie ’65, is a Harker Day School alumna.
Beattie is board vice chair at HealdsburgForever.org, a 14-year-old organization that helps fund various nonprofits in the Healdsburg area, which is assisting the Sonoma County Resilience Fund.
Once the decision was made to donate picnic receipts, the community stepped up the program and mounted a full-on effort to collect needed supplies for the stricken area. Along with $8,500 in picnic receipts, community members chipped in another $1,500 in cash to total about $10,000 in donations that went to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund. The Salvation Army received $2,800 in gift cards and the Redwood Empire Food Bank was the glad recipient of 150 bags and boxes of non-perishable food and pet food.
The donations are all thanks to a concerted effort by a variety of community members including members of Harker’s advancement department who coordinated the efforts.
Students and parents from the lower, middle and upper schools all contributed labor to the effort, with volunteers accepting donations to “stuff the bus” at a drop-off station at the upper school during Friday night’s football game, as well as at the middle and lower schools. In addition, lower school students wrote letters of encouragement to go with the more material contributions.
“I just want to thank everyone at Harker for the amazing job you did,” said Capt. Rio Ray, corps commanding officer, Salvation Army. “You are impacting lives. There are people that have lost everything and now have something because of you. So, thank you, continue to strive to serve others, you are making a difference and making the world a better place. Thank you.”
Redwood Empire Food Bank has served about 85 families a day over the last 12 days and was grateful for the Harker delivery. “Everybody has disasters; sometimes its medical, sometimes is the loss of a job, sometimes it’s just a disruption in your family,” said David Goodman, chief executive officer, Redwood Empire Food Bank. “In this particular case, the Sonoma complex fire has impacted thousands of people who never expected to need food assistance and here they are today. The food that you have given, your generosity, will improve lives and change lives and help people get back on their feet,” he said.