Monica Sliva of Turlock loves collecting teddy bears — she has 300 of them — and often would give one to her late grandmother, Almas Sliva of Modesto. After Almas died eight years ago, Monica regularly would leave a teddy bear on her grave.
"I was very close to her. She had a wonderful personality," Monica, 31, said. "She's the reason I have my can-do attitude."
Four years ago, Monica's father gave her an idea. Because she always has enjoyed being around elderly people, he said, why not visit the ones in retirement and convalescent homes and take along teddy bears as gifts?
Monica, who works as a financial analyst for Macy's in San Francisco, decided it would be a great idea. In the past four years, she's spent about $3,000 out of her own pocket to buy teddy bears and donate them to people in area rest homes during her weekend visits.
"Teddy bears are big and strong but have a good heart, a lot of love," she said. "It was hard at first, seeing a lot of people who never get visits from their own families — why don't people at least pick up the phone or send a card? — but I enjoy doing this."
And the bears, no doubt, have cheered up their new homes.
Jonay Bishop of Turlock wrote to thank several people who stopped to help when she fell on HawkEye Avenue near Donnelly Park at about 8 a.m. on a weekday.
"I know they were in a hurry to get to work, but still they took the time to help," she said, adding that she is especially grateful to a woman who gave her moral support and a man who called for an ambulance and stayed with her until it arrived.
"It's wonderful to know there are still people who do care," she said. Not only strangers, but also her friend, Faith, who is driving her to medical appointments as her "cracked" kneecap and wrist continue to heal.
Don Potts of Manteca also wrote to commend a stranger.
"With all the recent acts of violence, there still are many people who do good things," he said. "I would like to thank a woman named Pam for her small act of kindness. On (a recent) Sunday, she found my wife's cell phone in the Vintage Faire parking lot. She took the time to contact me to let me know she had found it and that she would leave it at the security booth in the mall."
Washington Mutual recently celebrated the opening of its newest Modesto branch on Carpenter Avenue by giving a $2,350 donation to Haven Women's Center.
"We are thrilled to join our fellow WaMu stores in serving the Modesto community and are proud to demonstrate our commitment to the area we serve through our donation to Haven Women's Center," said bank manager Deborah Beaudette.
Haven, a nonprofit agency, provides shelter and counseling for women and their families victimized by domestic violence.
Do you have a story about someone who has helped others or is a terrific role model? Send a brief item to Sue Nowicki at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.