Music lovers at the University of California at Merced are thrilled with their new vintage Steinway "B" Grand Piano. The seven-foot concert piano in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium was possible thanks to a $50,000 gift from Bob and Marie Gallo, longtime supporters of the arts.
"I think music is probably at the heart of my life," Marie said. "I love piano. I studied it throughout all my life.
"When I found out they didn't have a piano, period, it blew me away. No piano! That's like, no classrooms. Bob and I talked it over privately and decided, let's do that. It was a very easy choice to make. Here was one thing we could do to help out."
The piano, from Dale Erwin Piano Restorers in Modesto, was recently unveiled to a small group. UC Merced music professor Kevin Fellezs composed "Song for Merced" for the occasion and dedicated the piece to Marie. She said it was a first for her.
"They're such lovely people there," she said. "They have a very nice small theater-auditorium. This means a lot because the students will be the recipients of a lot of pleasurable hours. It's all about the students."
Bill Poulos of Salida said he was on a ladder pruning his in-laws' tree when he fell 10 feet down and was "knocked unconscious." He's thankful to several passers-by "who witnessed my wife in utter panic and anxiety and rushed to help."
One called 911. A man named Jess checked Bill's vitals. "Someone even brought a sleeping bag to cover me while I was on the ground," he said. "It's comforting to know that great Samaritans are alive and well in Modesto."
Jacqueline Riise of Oakdale wrote to thank the employees of McDonald's on McHenry Avenue for their help.
"I had carelessly left my wallet at the counter, and they phoned to tell me it was there," she said. "It's so encouraging to know there are still honest, caring people."
The Ripon chapter of Warm Up America meets at the Ripon Senior Center on the first Saturday of the even-numbered months to make afghans, lap robes, baby caps and stocking caps for area charities.
The group has been meeting for nearly 12 years. The next meeting is at 10 a.m. April 5. They are in need of yarn donations, which can be left at the center, 433 S. Wilma in Ripon, or at Ripon Grace Church, 734 W. Main St. For more information about the group, or about getting free knit and crochet patterns to work at home, call 543-1848.
Want to help encourage our military folks who have been injured in their duties? One Modesto Bee reader suggested sending a card or note to the following: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20307-5001.
No matter where you stand on the war in Iraq, it's a simple kindness to extend good wishes and encouragement to those injured there and elsewhere.
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.