La Jolla merchants give aid to schools, fire victims


Several La Jolla merchants are getting into the Christmas spirit of giving early this year, hosting holiday shopping event fund-raisers with proceeds going to area schools or charitable organizations.

One such event, “Shop The Rock,” is being held all day on Saturday, Dec. 1 at several participating businesses along Bird Rock’s La Jolla Boulevard commercial strip. Merchants are donating anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of their proceeds that day to benefit Bird Rock Elementary School.

Pamela Garvey, spokewoman for Shop The Rock, talked about the new fund-raiser’s origin.

“The Parents Committee at Bird Rock Elementary School started a program last year, Dine Around Bird Rock, in which participating restaurants chose a particular night or month to hold specials, donating a percentage of proceeds back to the elementary school,” Garvey said. “Beaumont’s restaurant did it in October with kid’s combo ice cream sundaes on Sundays, and gave 50 percent of proceeds to the school. It worked out so well with restaurants last year that we thought we’d expand this to include the merchants, bring the school community and the business district together.”

Garvey noted the school-business partnership is a win-win for all concerned. “We’re hoping to introduce a lot of families at Bird Rock Elementary who don’t live in the neighborhood to some of the great shops we have here,” she said, “and the elementary school will benefit by this.”

Chuck Patton, owner of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, who is also president of the Bird Rock Community Council, is one of the merchants taking part in the Dec. 1 Shop The Rock. “In our case, we’re giving 10 percent of our gift bag sales, travel mugs and a half-pound of coffee in a little gift box, back to the school,” he said. “Bird Rock Elementary has had to make a lot of cuts in programs over the years, and the only way to get back things like extra people or music teaching is through fund-raising. It’s a fun event and another excuse for people to come down to the boulevard and see the services and shops that are here.”

Patton added Shop The Rock will be relatively peaceful, as ongoing construction work on sewer/roundabouts is suspended on weekends.

Jena Joyce, president of Bird Rock Elementary’s 16-member, non-profit Parents Committee in existence since 1985 to support the school, noted supplemental funding generated by the committee is sorely needed by the school. “We support enrichment programs at Bird Rock,” Joyce said, “pay for the salaries of art and music teachers, the P.E. coach, a technology teacher and a librarian, as well as classroom supplies and equipment. We do this through a variety of fund-raisers. We need to raise about $200,000 every year. This event is a much-needed piece of that puzzle.”

Brian Miller, owner of Geppetto’s toys at 7850 Girard Ave. is raising the bar this year on his fund-raising efforts to support local schools. On Thursday, Nov. 29, he will donate 15 percent of all his La Jolla store proceeds that day to Bird Rock, La Jolla and Torrey Pines public elementary schools. “This is the first time, in my memory, that the three schools have partnered in a fund-raising event,” noted Miller. “I have a son who goes to Torrey Pines Elementary and we’re quite supportive of that school, sponsoring their Halloween carnival. Last year we did a shopping event for that school which was very successful. A few customers who are parents at the other schools approached me and asked If I would do the same event for them. I thought it would be nice to do some synergy and put the three together, allow customers to choose which school they want to donate to.”

On the 29th, there will be three different boxes at Gepetto’s with the names of the three different benefiting elementary schools. Customers will drop their receipts in the box of whichever school they’d like to receive a cash donation from a percentage of their purchase. “We’re hoping to get proceeds from not only parents of the students,” said Miller, “but also neighborhood people. We’ve done posters and handouts at the schools. It’s a great time of year to do it. Everybody has to do some holiday shopping anyway, so why not do something extra for their own elementary school? I think it will be good for both parties. It will drive business for us, and it will be a no-brainer for the schools.”

A third holiday shopping event, Holidays on Girard, is also planned on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 3 to 8 p.m. by local businesses. A group of 10 merchants on the avenue will be donating proceeds from their store sales to Las Patronas, a La Jolla-based philanthropic group, which, since 1946, has donated more than $12 million to more than 1,000 charitable institutions countywide.

Merchants participating in Holidays on Girard are The Corner Store, Everett Stunz, Girard Ave. Collection, Gracie & Co., King & Co., La Jolla FiberArts, Maudlin, Mermaids, Past & Presence and Seaside Home. Participating merchants will have red balloons displayed.

Lynn Noble, owner of one of the 10 participating businesses, La Jolla Fiber Arts at 7644 Girard Ave., said all 10 of the unique shops will offer a chance for patrons to win a prize up for grabs at each store. “It’s a game where people can take a card and go around to all the businesses and get their card signed off to be eligible to win a drawing,” said Noble. “Ten people will win $100 gift certificates to each of 10 businesses. A percentage of proceeds of our sales for that day will go to Las Patronas. It’s a fun activity to make people aware of the interesting businesses on Girard. There will be refreshments and specials, it’s just a very festive time.”

In the aftermath of the devastating wildfires, Nanci Sarino, owner of La Jolla Shoe Gallery at 7852 Girard Ave., and one of her vendors decided to do something to aid fire victims. One of her vendors is donating shoes that she’s delivering to a relief organization in Ramona, one of the hardest-hit areas, to be distributed to fire victims.

Said Sarino: “We wanted to see if we could do something to help, so I contaced one of my top vendors out of New York that carries shoes all made in Israel to see if they’d be willing to donate some product. They were gracious enough to get some shoes sent out to us. There are still people with nothing left, so we’ll get them (shoes) into good hands.”

The Ramona relief organization receiving the shoe donation is called Christ In Action.

“We’re happy to see these shoes go out to anyone in need,” concluded Sarino.