"Love Your Neighbor" – Giving a Helping Hand to Those Who Need it Most This Holiday Season


Yesterday, Bryles and I cleaned out our closets, loaded the car, and made a trip out to visit a local thrift store.  My dear friend and book club mate, Linda H., connected me with a local operation that collects items and gives directly to clients.   Imagining our wares going to local families, we felt good about doing a deep cleanse to make a hearty pile of items to share.

Arriving at this hidden gem of a thrift store we’d yet to discover, we were barely able to unload our trunk before two store members eagerly met us at the car to receive our gifts.   What started as a day of organizing and adventures in thrifting, turned out to be a poignant reminder of the importance of community spirit during the holiday season.  Allow us to share our experience of spreading our abundance among our local deserving “neighbors”.

Love Your Neighbor

“We help those that need it most.  Our clients are the children who live in the Valley of the Moon Children’s home (who are waiting for adoption), seniors in hospital beds who may not have any family support, and single parent families,” shares Elaine-Barbara of Santa Rosa based-nonprofit Love Your Neighbor.   “We hope to bring some much needed support and holiday joy to these deserving individuals, and we need your help.”

From donating your under-used clothing for single parents, or giving your out grown toys for the children, or  making the time to knit a scarf to warm a senior, there are many ways you can reach out and support our deserving “neighbors” in Sonoma County.  Elaine-Barbara also asks people for the gift of time.  “Our vision of support is multi-faceted as we collect items, sort them, create packages, and wrap items.  Then we go on to make deliveries.”

Loving Hands Christmas Program

Elaine-Barbara and her crew of volunteers offer support to the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home, residents of Del Nido (seniors and differently-abled adults), bed-ridden seniors in hospital beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Petaluma and Santa Rosa and other local folk struggling with life-threatening illnesses.

Valley of the Moon Children’s Home

Consider brightening the holiday season for a child by donating toys in like new condition or new for children at the Valley of the Moon Children’s Village out on Hwy 12.  22-25  children (sometimes more) aged newborn to 18, call the Children’s Village their temporary home.  Children living in the Village are neglected, abused, or abandoned,  and are often sheltered here when they are taken out of an abusive situation.

“Some of the children will arrive on Christmas Day, so we’ll need extra gifts for them,” reveals Elaine-Barbara.  Bryles happily passed on his puzzle and block sets- “They can play with these,” he offered while I choked up.

Del Nido

Join in the Loving Hands spirit by helping to create a holiday for the residents of Del Nido.  Del Nido houses predominantly low income, disabled, seniors or individuals that are apart of Becoming Independent. Most of the people have in-home support workers to care for their basic needs.  Love Your Neighbor envisions a day of surprise and delight made possible through decorating residents homes for the holidays and leaving behind gifts.

Gift packages will include Traditional Medicinal Teas, Shikai lotions, and other self-care and pampering items donated through these locally-based generous companies, and others like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.  (Traditional Medicinals and Whole Foods also support, Sono-Ma.  Wow!)

“These lovely coffee mugs will pair nicely with the tea!” exclaimed Barbara as she sorted through my donation.  I felt humbled by the vision of my cast-off in warming someone’s hands and heart, and immediately thought of returning with more mugs later.

The program can also use your donation of the following items to bring on seasonal smiles:

1.    Christmas decorations for about 20-30 homes (outside decorations, tree decorations, wreaths, outside or inside lights, etc) T

2.    Socks (Several pairs each size): Women’s 8 1/2, Women’s 5 1/2, Men’s large 2.

3.    Shoes: 8.5 women’s tennis, 8.5 women’s slippers, 6.5 women’s tennis, women’s size 12 tennis shoes

4.    Women’s and  Men’s XL clothing; including pajamas

5.  Art Supplies For Adult

6.  Toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, paper towels, lotion, toenail cutters, baby oil 16. Cat food: Kitten “Kaboodle Dry”

7. Full sized bed bedding (sheets/blanket/coverlet), bathroom towels, bathroom rug.

St. Joseph Hospital Petaluma and Santa Rosa Memorial:

“We are going to deliver presents to the children in surgery unit, emergency ward, and other areas,” says Elaine Barbara who also explained volunteers will visit seniors who are bed-ridden and may not have any visitors.  Scarfs, mittens, and lap blankets will bring comfort and warmth, while a visit is sure to bring at least a small bit of joy.

Love Your Neighbor Clients

“Our clients are those that struggle the most.  They have extreme health issues and little resources to meet their basic needs. Our volunteers do ‘personal shopping’ for these clients – shopping from our thrift store shelves and our food pantry to make them care kits.

Elaine-Barbara reveals the story of a few neighbors in need:

1. Maria (Stage Four: Leukemia-Blood Cancer): She needs toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap, any kind of “chicken shaped decoration”, canned food

2. Beatrice (Stage Four: Bone/Liver Cancer): She needs lap blankets, angel ornaments, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, cotton sweaters (Medium), warm nightgowns (Medium), size 8 women’s slippers.

3. Les (Severe Diabetes: Cookbooks and other books on Diabetes care, scrap jewelry (he spends time tinkering with scraps of jewelry), walking cane, and books on carving wood)

4. Sammi (Woman 93 years old-Blind in one eye, paralyzed in one arm,fragile) Lap blanket, warm socks, warm hat/scarfs, warm size small sweater, touch lamp)

5.  Lee (Amputee from severe Diabetes, one arm paralyzed): Permanent wheelchair invalid. Any kind of household item. Juice, canned food, warm clothing (men’s medium)

How You Can Help

“Any help in any of these parts of the overall LOVING HANDS CHRISTMAS PROGRAM would be wonderful…!” exclaims Elaine-Barbara.  Bryles and I can share that it felt great to clean out our closets and make a donation.  Your family can make a much needed difference in the lives of our neighbors by making donations, volunteering or shopping at the Thrift Store.

Stop by 2150 Bluebell Drive in Santa Rosa. When you bring items in, state that it is for the LOVING HANDS CHRISTMAS PROGRAM. Hours are 10-6 Monday through Saturday. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR PUBLIC CHARITY & THRIFT STORE  (CELEBRATION, INC.) is both a public charitable trust registered with the CA Secretary of State AND a 501 (c) 3 non-profit established for charitable purposes. ALL donations ARE tax-deductible.


Elaine-Barbara Neiswender  Volunteer Director


2150 Bluebell Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

(707) 542-0446

Please note that the thrift store is offering a 50% off Holiday Sale, and all purchases go to support services to deserving clients.  Don’t miss the fabulous crafting and book selections.  Elaine Barbara and her volunteers will welcome you with a smile and offer you coffee and fish crackers (or other snacks) while you shop.  See you there!

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7 Responses

  1. Mary Bowen

    Posted: December 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm |

    Good morning Holly! What a wonderful reminder for all of us who have so much! Thank you Holly!!!

    • Sono-Ma: Holly

      Posted: December 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm |

      Thank you, Grandma Mary. We actually saved a lot of our better items to consign later this Spring, but are thinking of returning and donating even these items to Love Your Neighbor. Thinking of the kids in the Valley of the Moon Children’s Village, we’d sure love to do all we can!

  2. Annalyce

    Posted: December 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm |

    Wonderful story and great info. I went there yesterday and bought some cool stuff at really great prices. I’ll be donating to them next because everything goes right back to helping people in our community.

  3. Elaine Neiswender

    Posted: December 18, 2010 at 9:44 pm |

    Thank you Holly for doing this wonderful article about what we do! LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR is located at: 2150 Bluebell in Santa Rosa. Our hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 AM until 6 PM. We are a completely GREEN business that recycles just about everything. We accept donations ONLY during open business hours. We are open this next week before Christmas and then we will be closed for re-stocking between Christmas and January 3rd. Come and see all that we have for you at 50% off! Our direct-giving program does help local families or individuals in Sonoma County who are mostly alone, poor, and who are facing alone serious health issues and/or injuries.

  4. Karen

    Posted: December 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm |


    What a wonderful reminder of how easy it can be to help out those in need. Thank you!


  5. Linda

    Posted: December 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm |

    Thanks, Holly, for this wonderful article. I love your pics! It is great to see all the support Sonoma County gives to so many people. At the Luna Fest, one of the speakers who had become homeless from losing her job, her home and her income, said she was in S.F area looking for a place to stay, then Marin, and then found wonderful help in Sonoma County- she said we are VERY special and it warms my heart to know we live in such a place with such people. Thanks- you are an angel! Linda

  6. Vikki

    Posted: November 1, 2012 at 5:32 am |

    Love Your Neighbor Public Charity and Thrift Store is an extraordinary shopping experience! A friend told me this was theeee place to shop for used books – variety and price beyond compare, warm and friendly staff. I spent two hours this afternoon shopping and waded through less then half of their stock – did find several books that were exactly what I was looking for. There is a sale going on until mid-November 2012 – fill a shopping bag with sale-marked books and pay only $2 for the whole bag. No,no: these sale books are not on this litte table here and that shelf way over there … these sale books are plentiful and on every shelf.
    Love Your Neighbor is located at 3161 Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403 – 707.542.0446 (no longer on Bluebell).
    Visit Love Your Neighbor to feel their energy of compassion and service … let them feel your appreciation.


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