The following letter by Amalia Popel was published in the Almanac's Feb. 14 print edition:
I came to the U.S. 33 years ago, and found the level of charity and volunteerism in this country amazing.
There have been many changes in these years. For example, the pace of life in our rural communities has accelerated and many more women are working. But I am still in awe of the numerous hours people donate to non-profit activities. During the last few months I have had the opportunity to observe many examples through my involvement with Peninsula Volunteers -- and this is in addition to the day-in and day-out efforts of our members.
At our annual December Tea Party for Crane Place (the Volunteers run apartments for elderly or disabled people), 14 Woodside High School students, along with some parents and teachers, pitched in to help decorate, serve and clean up. Entertainment was provided by community members, Stanford students and the Woodside Elementary School third grade class. Again, it was the personal connection, warm greetings, and so on that made it special.
Peninsula Volunteers also runs the south San Mateo County Meals on Wheels program. I can't say enough about our on-going volunteers who ensure that five days a week elderly shut-ins receive a nutritious meal and see some one who cares about how they are doing.
On top of that, different local groups make cards or other decorations to make holiday meals special. (Woodside Elementary School children are making hearts for Valentine's Day.) Burlingame students make New Year's cards, and Maya's Mom Group made holiday wreaths.
I find it very encouraging to see the interest shown by our young people in working to make life happier for others. Their parents and teachers should be very proud of the values they are instilling in their youngest. Congratulations to all of them.
Olive Hill Lane, Woodside