In the latest Around Town column, news about local volunteers building book cubbies for low-income students, a group of musicians performing jazz for free at Johnson Park and a teen's knitting campaign to benefit high-risk youth.
A SPECIAL PLACE FOR BOOKS ... Educational resources have been in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Silicon Valley Sunshine Interact Club and University Rotary Club of Palo Alto made a dent in addressing that need on a local level by building 41 book cubbies for The Primary School in East Palo Alto, club President Jerry Zhang said. About 12 members of the club spent around five hours last week using wood materials to construct the cubbies, also known as book corners, that aim to serve low-income students. The club is made up of local teens, most of whom attend Palo Alto, Gunn or Los Altos high schools, said Zhang, a senior at Paly. The cubbies will be filled with books largely provided through the Bring Me a Book Foundation. In total, 88 cubbies with books will be delivered to The Primary School ahead of a Nov. 17 literacy event for kindergarten and first grade students, according to Judy Koch, a member of the rotary club of Palo Alto, which sponsors the student group.
ALL JAZZED UP ... Many people have made a walk around the park part of their routine to find respite from being indoors. For visitors of Johnson Park, that walk has become much jazzier thanks to Palo Alto resident Scott King and his friends. King, a bassist, put out a call to his fellow jazz musicians for the free weekly shows and called the Police Department to make sure it was OK before launching in mid-July. The group, Jazz in the Park, plays improvisational jazz every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They're made up of lead guitarist Greg Pascale, pianists Kimiko and Ina Kim and drummer B Alex Muchnik==. "It's so rewarding to have friends who are willing to join me and share the music, and it's so rewarding that the community has opened their arms to embrace us." The group has gathered an array of audience members, including couples, children, families and even two to three dogs who frequently take their spot next to the performers. "We have a real soft, relaxing sound and I think it invites people to just sit down and chill," King said. While the sound is infectious, the group and audience members make sure they take safety precautions against COVID-19, including staying 6-8 feet from each other, he added. Jazz in the Park is looking for ways to continue playing outdoors, particularly during the upcoming cold months. While unfavorable weather may force the group to take a break, the positive feedback from locals is priceless. Watch the group's performances on King's YouTube channel.
HATS OFF TO NATALIE ... As crisp weather settles in the Bay Area, you may find yourself in search of a knitted hat to stay warm. For 15-year-old Natalie Yeung, the hats aren't just a winter fashion accessory, but a symbol of her new hobby of knitting that she picked up while getting treated for T cell lymphoma at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. The Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area fulfilled Natalie's wish of supporting the Lucile Packard Social Services Fund through a $5,000 donation. The Millbrae teen wanted to make a larger impact and, in collaboration with the nonprofit, launched the #KnittingWithNatalie awareness campaign on her 15th birthday on July 23, which also fell during her last week of cancer treatments, according to the nonprofit. Community members were encouraged to knit hats and send them to the nonprofit through the end of August. The campaign gathered more than 800 hats for Lucile Packard's Teen Health Van, which cares for high-risk children and young adults. "Natalie is now in the maintenance phase of her treatment and looking forward to continuing with high school and (moving) on to college," according to Make-A-Wish. She plans to become a nurse someday. Natalie's story was featured at The Gift of Wish, the nonprofit's virtual event and auction held Oct. 22.