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Downtown Farmers' Market donates $23K to Avenidas

Gifts to senior-services provider now total more than $400,000

The Downtown Palo Alto Farmers' Market has made its largest-ever annual contribution to senior-services organization Avenidas, it was announced Thursday (May 5). The nonprofit donated $23,000, bringing its total contributions to the Avenidas to more than $400,000.

Avenidas, which provides support programs to seniors across the Mid-Peninsula, is the sole beneficiary of the farmers market, a relationship rooted in the history of its creation.

"When our organization was founded in 1981, the people in the community that were most heavily involved represented, in a way, what came to be Avenidas," farmers-market spokesperson Marsha Dillon said.

"At the time, the downtown grocery store had just closed. But a group of residents brainstormed ideas for ways to provide fresh produce to downtown seniors and families, and this eventually led to the founding of our organization."

As well as offering legal sponsorship, Avenidas members provided a seed loan of $1,500 to the volunteer-led nonprofit when it opened 30 years ago, with just 11 farmers represented.

The market repaid that loan quickly enough, and as it has grown, has been making charity contributions to Avenidas every year since.

Representing most of the market's stall-rental proceeds, the gifts began with a $300 donation in 1982. This year's donation represents the bulk of such earnings from the 2010 season.

"These are challenging financial times for the seniors in our community and the organizations like Avenidas that assist them, so the support of the Downtown Farmers' Market is very helpful to us," Avenidas president and CEO Lisa Hendrickson said in a press release.

With 45 vendors, the Saturday market opens for its 2011 season at 8 a.m. May 14 at its historic location on the corner of Gilman Street and Hamilton Avenue.

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